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Pokémon Focus : Remind : Forget

Raggy

(。◕‿‿◕。)
Location
East
This is a story I've been writing here and there, and I like it. That's about it I think

It's about terrible things happening to bokemon that may or may not deserve it.

Sorry in advance, I'm not very hip.

Edit: Edited to be less bad. It's still bad probably, but "lessly" so.
Edit 2: I changed the title because I didn't like it


Chapter 1: A Sunny Day and Two Failures

Along a quiet dusty road the wind gusted, creating tiny dust tornadoes along the ground. From behind a brick wall cracked with age, a Haxorus watched curiously as a pokemon he had never seen before stumbled along the road. It was a tall white quadrupedal with no mouth to speak of, only two green eyes with red pupils. Around it’s torso was a brilliant golden ring that extended outwards into two curved semicircles. However ornate they were, it was a clear hindrance to the creature, whose attempts to steady itself by leaning into the wall were dashed when the back ornaments would knock it over. Despite its fumbling there was a nuance and delicacy to its movements as it stepped on thin legs.

Thinking that it would reflect badly on him if he just watched, not to mention feeling a great deal of pity, the Haxorus moved to come round the edge of the wall to assist.

“Say, are you alright there,” he spoke anxiously. “Do you need help?”

“There’s- there’s dust in my eyes.” The response was telepathic, which made sense to the Haxorus all things considered, it did look like a psychic inclined sort.

“That’s not good at all, let me help you.” He wrapped an arm around the other pokemon as he said this, leading it into a nearby building.


-----


The space was vertically extensive, an acoustic haven population formerly one, now two. The Haxorus gingerly rubbed the white pokemon’s face with a small cloth,

“There you go, that should be better,” the Haxorus said with a smile, stepping back to get a better look at it. “So how did you end up this far out? Long way from the city you know.”

The creature blinked and was silent for a moment. “I don’t know really, I just remember the dust.”

The Haxorus looked concerned, “Does that mean you don’t remember before that.” He thought for a moment, “Better question, what’s your name?”

“Uhm, uh, it’s Arceus.” The reply was hesitant.

“That’s a right nice name,” the Haxorus said, watching Arceus carefully. “I’m Mallys, always a pleasure.”

“Ah,” Arceus said, “Thank you Mallys.”

Mallys smiled again, “It’s nothing, least I could do for a stranger. Anyway, what are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know” said Arceus. “Where is this?”

Mallys sighed, “I suppose I was expecting something like this. Did you get drunk recently perhaps?” He grimaced, “On second thought, you probably wouldn’t remember that either”.

Arceus looked uncertain, “I- I guess not. Do you think you know why I’m here?”

Mallys shrugged, “I can’t really think of anything, but you don’t look like any pokemon I’ve seen before, so you’re probably a tourist. See, the thing is, I’ve heard of this affliction or something of tourists going into shock when the place they’re visiting isn’t what they expected.” He stopped momentarily before continuing, “That was a bit complicated, sorry it’s just something I thought of.”

“It makes sense though,” Arceus said. “What’s around here that tourists come to see?”

“If anything, the Grand Harvest Temple in the city, though it must have been a real disappointment if you wandered all the way out here,” Mallys replied.

“I wonder why that happened.” Arceus was upset that something like that would be the case, but tried not to show it.

“Hopefully if anything you’ll remember what happened if you go back, at least that’s what I think. Before you go though, take a moment to rest, it’s better for you”.

Arceus nodded. “That’s a good idea, thanks Mallys.”


------- - - -- ---- - -


Mallys stepped carefully around a brilliant jade statue of a huge bird, polishing it with almost a greater care than he had taken with Arceus’ face earlier. Arceus watched with fascination as Mallys’ claws moved rapidly, covering every inch of the surface with a forceful yet delicate energy leaving a complete sheen.

“Is this, a temple too,” Arceus asked as he looked around in wonder. Unlit candles lined the walls, the cavernous ceilings creating a dull reverb. Solomonic colonnades carved from a dark wood were precisely spaced down the length of the room. Arceus experimentally poked one with a hoof, captivated by the detail.

“Once upon a time yes,” Mallys spoke idly as he continued to polish. “Nowadays I’m just a historic preservationist, in a manner of speaking.” There was a sound of longing in his voice that Arceus noted, though he decided not to ask more.

“A temple for uh,” Arceus gestured towards the statue. “The bird?”

Mallys smiled, “Yes, the bird.” He stepped back from the statue to look it over. “This is a pokemon known as Ho-Oh.” He looked back at Arceus, “You could say I’m a big fan”.

Arceus could only admire the statue of Ho-Oh. It was exquisitely detailed, the curves of the talons were perfect, complemented by angular lines depicting a fearsome avian face. The feathers were separated from lifelike quality only by being sculpted out of jade, splayed outwards in a triumphant wave.

“It would be really something to meet a pokemon like that someday.” Arceus looked thoughtful, “Have you ever met Ho-Oh?”

“Not at all,” Mallys said with an amused expression. “If I did though, I’m sure I would have some words for them”.

“How long have you been taking care of this place anyway?”

“Some thirty-five odd years, and I’d say it’s been something I would do again-” Mallys looked away, “-but I won’t say it”.

“Why would you say that?”

“No reason not to.”

Arceus nodded in return, he didn’t really understand what Mallys meant but decided it was the best he would get. For a time, the two of them simply looked at the statue. As fantastic as it was, the fading daylight cast a shadow across the face, giving it a rather somber expression. In the small chapel, Arceus felt kind of sad.


-----------


Mallys looked exasperated as he leaned against the green brick wall, “As far as I’m concerned, leaving in the middle of the night flies in the face of common sense.”

Arceus looked at him apologetically. “It’s the best thing I can do, unless you have a suggestion.”

Mallys shrugged. “It’s not my place to tell you otherwise, and I understand why you’re doing it, but be careful would you?”

“Kind of you for someone you hardly know,” Arceus said half jokingly.

“As I said earlier,” Mallys started, “It’s the least I can do. This road is hardly travelled nowadays.” He looked bashful, “-and as much as I would like to think I’m modest, it’s nice to have someone appreciate the work I do to make my little world look nice.”

“Well, it’s the least I could do for someone who would help me out” Arceus said, turning Mallys words right back at him.

Mallys couldn’t help but smile, “If you ever need a place to stay...” he left the words hanging in the air.

Arceus nodded. “Maybe sometime” with that, he walked off into the night as the Haxorus watched. The moon was only a sliver in the sky as Arceus walked, the only sounds the gravel under his hooves and the distant chirping of kricketune. ‘I guess’ he thought to himself ‘-if this Harvest Temple was apparently disappointing enough that I had a mental shutdown, I shouldn’t expect much’. Even as he thought this, he couldn’t help but feel a morbid anticipation for whatever it would be. Unavoidable he supposed.

The night was long, but at least the wind had died down. All Arceus could do was walk.


<><><>


The sun was rising again as tall walls came into view. Arceus stared at the seemingly endless stretch of sun bleached stucco, broken only by a wide arch under which pokemon streamed in both directions. Arceus noted he was approaching from a side road that was essentially ignored, branching off from a main thoroughfare that shot away elsewhere. Making his way through the throng, he received some glances, more so disapproving than anything else as the half-wheels along his back disrupted the flow of the crowd.

The street was lined with double story mud brick houses with grass curtains for doors. Smaller pokemon could be seen leaning out of windows, either watching the crowds below or affixing miscellaneous ornaments to strings stretching across the road overhead from building to building. The lines stretched from side to side along the avenue, hanging with formless colorful material that hung so low at points that Arceus could touch it. There was a scent of something sweet baking, for a moment Arceus almost stopped walking just to take it all in. He ignored the audible cursing of the pokemon trying to walk around him as he slowed down before he spotted a spire of some sort rising above the other buildings. Thinking it was the Harvest Temple, he quickened his pace again.

It looked like it was. The rising spire was actually a gigantic obelisk rising into the sky, situated right in front of a massive structure. It was a dome, ringed with white pillars heavily contrasting the red surroundings. Terraced steps lead up to the entrance, the white stairway covered in pokemon sitting in lively conversation and the occasional merchant sorting wares on ragged carpets. Arceus attracted more attention this time walking up the steps, his white and gold colors playing off the white of the stairs accidently creating an almost regal aura.

Needless to say, Arceus felt uncomfortably embarrassed.


----


The air in the temple was stiff. Though a breeze blew through the entrance, it seemed to disperse before it left the antechamber. Soft voices floated through the hall as Arceus entered. A lopunny wearing a yellow sash over it’s left shoulder hurried over to him.

“Many warm welcomes traveller to the Grand Temple of the Fourth Harvest. I am Mae Chee, a humble believer in prosperity for the world, what brings you to this sanctuary?”

Arceus hid a sheepish look, “I’m sorry Miss Mae Chee, I don’t quite know myself”.

She smiled at him, “No need for such formalities, it’s unbecoming; and it’s ok that you don’t know, guidance for the unknown is always a reason”.

Arceus nodded and made a move to go in before Mae Chee stopped him.

“Full apologies visitor, but I must ask, do the-,” she hesitated. “ -ornaments attached to your back come off?”

Arceus looked down for a moment in thought. “I uh, I don’t know, why do you ask?”

“Oh oh, it’s not a bad thing.” Mae Chee was quick to appear apologetic. “It’s simply that this temple’s corridors are somewhat thin and I fear they may cause undue stress in passage”.

“You don’t need to be sorry,” Arceus was quick to respond. “I get it, but I really don’t know.” He craned his head to look back at the ring. “If you want you can try”.

Mae Chee approached somewhat apprehensively. She looked at Arceus several times, reaching and retracting her paws several times. He nodded at her and she finally, tentatively grasped the outer edge and pulled. Arceus swayed slightly, but the rings did not budge. She pulled experimentally a few more times from different angles and both sides before returning to face him.

“It looks like they’re firmly a part of you,” she said. “Oh well, what will be will be.” With that, she lead Arceus into the temple proper.

The walls were unusual, sharp pearly-blue surfaces that curved and jutted outwards at uneven points. Vague murals of lines and circles dotted the walls, many drawn unevenly. Aside from a few scattered pokemon that Arceus assumed to be tourists like him, the majority of pokemon inside wore similar yellow sashes in various places. The temple’s style he supposed. In one corner, a group of yellow sashes were in what looked like a prayer. Others wielded a sharp looking instrument, carving into boards of wood, the scratching sound dimly echoing throughout.

Most importantly was at the far end of the room. A large symbol was etched into the wall, an arrangement of straight lines forming an intersected triangle. Underneath it, two pokemon were having a conversation, a floating shield with two swords crossed behind it and a mass of blackness, save for a strand of white along the top. Though he tried not to, Arceus could not help but stare. At a point, the black mass turned and Arceus suddenly felt a pressure as it stared him down with a steely blue eye. Though he averted his gaze, he felt frozen in place as the two approached.

“Greetings to you.” It’s voice was smooth. It ebbed and flowed like a tide, possessing a singular nuance of musical quality that washed over slowly like a blanket. Arceus was enraptured by the voice of the dark as it continued, “We do not usually play host to such exquisite looking pokemon such as yourself, so I fondly hope you can understand my immediate interest.”

Arceus was lost for a moment before coming back to himself, “Ah, I don’t look that great, I’m just a visitor, no one special.” He inwardly grimaced for sounding like a fool in front of the clearly eloquent pokemon. “”I’m Arceus, and I just came to ask a few questions”.

The dark pokemon seemed intrigued, “An unusual name to be sure, but a fine one regardless.” It affixed Arceus with both eyes, “I am Darkrai, the head of this temple, and if it’s questions you have, I can answer them to the best of my ability”.

“Thank you Darkrai,” Arceus said. “It’s, well, not really an important question or anything, so sorry in advance”.

“Don’t be” was the response.

Arceus looked at Darkrai for a moment before looking away, “I was wondering if I’ve been here some time before”.

“Here before?” Darkrai said curiously. “As in, if you have visited the temple in the past and you do not remember doing so?”

“Yes, yeah that’s it.”

Darkrai was silent for a moment, “No, you have never been here”.

Arceus looked at him in surprise, “Really? Not at all?”

Darkrai spoke directly, “There’s no way I would mistake a pokemon of your stature and visage. I have never seen you before. Since that is the case-” Darkrai spoke with concern. “What precipitated the question?”

Arceus explained the entirety of the past day to Darkrai who listened intently. The entire time, the other pokemon, the shield, simply looked straight at Arceus unwavering, to the extent that it was almost as if it was looking through him. Around them, the activity of the temple continued heedless of the exchange.

“A strange situation to be sure,” Darkrai said matter-of-factly. “If it is any consolation to you, I can offer the resources of this temple to assist you in undoing this affliction.”

Arceus was taken aback, “Thank you very much Darkrai, though-” he stopped. “It’s only been a day, I don’t think it will be a long term thing, just an intuition I guess?”

Darkrai simply nodded, “If you decide otherwise, my position will remain unchanged”.

“You’re very generous,” was all Arceus could say.

“The harvest is such to provide for all. I would do the same for anyone because it’s simply right”.

------

Exiting the temple was like waking up in front of a window in direct sunlight. Arceus looked back at the temple, admiring the gleaming dome. The disparity between the exterior and interior was strikingly confusing, it bothered Arceus a little.

Taking a moment to get his bearings again, Arceus was surprised to see a flash of yellow scales, a familiar face in the plaza.

“Mallys?” Arceus said hesitantly. The Haxorus was leaning rather unceremoniously on the base of the obelisk; hearing Arceus he looked at him and waved.

“You know it’s not hard to find someone like you around here,” Mallys said.

“That makes sense,” Arceus replied, looking himself over. “I suppose you just asked about something big and white”.

“Could’ve worked,” Mallys shrugged. “Actually I just asked if anyone had seen a pokemon that looked like a god”.

Arceus was incredulous, “What- You mean?” He glanced around, “I mean, I don’t think... ah.”

Mallys almost laughed, but caught himself. “Sorry, not sorry, I just asked the questions.” He looked behind Arceus at the temple, “-and it looks like the answers agreed with me”.

-----

Some time later they walked together along the outer wall of the town a quiet path in the shade of a line of trees. That is to say, shade for Arceus at least, Mallys walked close to the wall so the blades around his head wouldn’t snag on a branch or simply cut them off.

“So no luck?” Mallys asked.

“Nothing.” Arceus shook his head in frustration, “I even got to ask the head of the temple-”.

“Wait.” Mallys cut Arceus off with an exclamation, “You got to meet Darkrai?”

Caught off guard, Arceus took a moment to reply, “Oh, yea, yes I did.”

“Huh...” Mallys nodded to himself. “You’re lucky then ya know? I’ve heard he’s really smart, usually always doing business with dignitary types and royalty. How did you get to talk to him anyway?”

“I think he noticed me because I was staring at him.”

Mallys’ eyes narrowed, “Seriously? I mean, I could pick you out from a crowd a mile away, so I can see it, but that just sounds silly”.

Arceus sighed, “You’re the one who got the idea that I look like a deity”.

“Fair point,” Mallys trailed a claw along the brick wall for a moment. “But, if he didn’t know, then we’re back to square one.”

Arceus was thoughtful, “Well if anything, Darkrai said I could use the temple’s resources I don’t remember sooner or later”.

Mallys looked at Arceus strangely, “I’m sorry, what?”

“Yea” Arceus started, looking at the trees, “Darkrai said that they offer the temple’s help to anyone in need”.

“Then uh, why didn’t you take him up on that?”

Arceus looked at Mallys, “I mean- I think- well, I’d think the temple really has a lot more to do than help out with a minor memory problem-” Arceus was cut off suddenly as Mallys smacked him lightly with a claw.

“Idiot, what are you putting yourself down for? You literally don’t know why you ended up eating dust in the middle of nowhere.” Mallys paused for a moment, “And- and, I never even asked you what you remember before any of this happened; what do you- what did you do before this?”

Arceus couldn’t focus. “I don’t remember?” he said in a daze.

Mallys looked at Arceus, jaw agape, “So you don’t remember ANYTHING?” Seeing Arceus nod, he covered his face with his claws, “Ah geez, this is not good at all, what the heck happened to you?”

“You still think it could be the tourist thing?” Arceus asked, rubbing his head with one hoof.

“The what?” Mallys looked at him confused for a moment before remembering. “Right, uh, I guess?”

“I must have had the worst day then”.

Mallys had to take a moment to compose himself. He leaned against the wall as Arceus slowly sat in the grass, “Sorry for hitting you, it’s just, you know, you already were acting foolish when you left last night, and now you’re just letting this opportunity pass. What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking about it for a while” Arceus said, “If it was really just memory lost from some disappointment somewhere, I thought maybe it would just go away after a while.”

Mallys shook his head, “I might have agreed with you if I didn’t know you don’t remember a thing. Makes me wonder if you were this thoughtless before”.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Arceus groaned. “How do you hit so hard?”

Mallys flexed a claw, “I really only wanted to give you a little smack” there was something of regret across his face. “Suppose it’s muscle memory or something”.

Muscle memory of what? Arceus thought to himself. Mallys probably didn’t know his own strength from living alone in the small temple for so long. “Yea Mallys, I’ll go back to see what they have”.

“Go for yourself, not for me” was all Mallys said.

Arceus knew Mallys was right. He felt uncertain again, he still didn’t know anything about himself, but he didn’t feel extremely concerned by the fact either.

Is something wrong?

Do I not care about myself?

Mallys watched Arceus, who looked deep in thought. “You haven’t slept since yesterday have you?”

Arceus looked up in surprise, “I- no”.

Mallys shrugged. “The temple aint going anywhere. If you don’t mind, you could sleep right there if you wanted”.

Arceus looked at Mallys for a long time, before simply nodding and spreading out on the soft grass.

Mallys was bemused. “He really doesn’t have anything to lose huh.”
 
Last edited:

Negrek

Spindrift
Staff
I read the beginning of this story back when you posted it on Serebii, but didn't get a chance to review. I gotta admit, from what I saw, I wouldn't have guessed that this was a story about "terrible things happening to pokemon that may or may not deserve it," but now that you've said that I'm definitely intrigued! Let's have another look, then.

At times your grammar/punctuation is a little shaky. One place where this is particularly noticeable is in the dialogue. Usually when you write dialogue, if it's followed by a dialogue tag (like "he said"), it should end in a comma, and when it stands as a sentence on its own it should end in a period. There's a guide here, but I'll go over a couple of examples from this chapter as well:

“That’s not good at all, let me help you” he wrapped an arm around the other pokemon as he said this, leading it into a nearby building.
Here "That's not good at all, let me help you" is a complete sentence. "He wrapped an arm around the other pokémon..." is also a complete sentence that doesn't relate to the dialogue. In this case you want the dialogue to end in a period and the text after to be capitalized, just like you'd do for a normal sentence:

“That’s not good at all, let me help you.He wrapped an arm around the other pokemon as he said this, leading it into a nearby building.
Arceus nodded, “Maybe sometime” with that, he walked off into the night as the Haxorus watched.
Here "Arceus nodded," "Maybe sometime," and the text that come after are all their own sentences, not dependent on each other. The way to punctuate this would be to separate them all with periods and capitalize all their beginnings:

Arceus nodded. “Maybe sometime.With that, he walked off into the night as the Haxorus watched.
“Greetings to you” it’s voice was smooth.
Again, "Greetings to you" is a complete sentence, as is "Its voice was smooth." (It should be "its" here, because "It is voice was smooth" doesn't make sense.) So this should be:

“Greetings to you.Its voice was smooth.
Alternatively, you could reword this so the second part of the quote is describing how the words are being said. In that case, the dialogue and the narration afterwards depend on each other, so you would use a comma and leave things uncapitalized:

“Greetings to you,” it said smoothly.
While dialogue was the area where I saw the most consistent errors, at times you also get a bit wordy, and this can make it hard to follow what you're saying. For example:

From behind a faded green brick wall cracked with age, a Haxorus watched curiously as a pokemon he had never seen before stumbled around the road.
"Faded green brick cracked with age" is a lot of words to describe a door! Piling a lot of descriptors up in a row like this tends to read as jumbly or difficult to follow.

Thinking that it would very much reflect badly on him if he just watched, not to mention feeling a great deal of pity, the Haxorus moved a ways away to come round the edge of the wall to assist.
"Moved aways away to come round the edge of the wall to assist" is kind of a convoluted way of describing what Mallys is doing here. What really matters is that he came around the wall to help Arceus, right? I don't think you need to choreograph what Mallys is doing quite so closely in order to get your point across.

Reading sentences aloud might help to identify places where they've become convoluted; if it sounds unnatural or is difficult to say aloud without stumbling over words, it's a good idea to take another look and see if you can simplify the sentence a bit.

A couple of other small notes:

...though he had claws, it was clearly something he did often.
I'm not sure why the fact that he has claws would ordinarily suggest that didn't often polish something with a cloth.

Arceus attracted more attention this time walking up the steps, his white and gold colors playing off the white of the stairs accidently creating an almost regal aura.

Needless to say, Arceus felt uncomfortably embarrassed.
This bit definitely made me smile.

A lopunny wearing a yellow sash over it’s left shoulder hurried over to him.
Here's another case where you use "it's" when you want "its." "It's" is a contraction of the phrase "it is," so you can tell whether you want to use it pretty easily: if you replace an "it's" with an "it is" and it sounds wrong, you should be using "its" instead.

Most importantly was at the far end of the room.
"Most importantly was" doesn't really work. There's no noun for that "importantly" to attach to. "Most important was the thing at the far end of the room," maybe, or "The most important thing was at the far end of the room."

I like the hard time you're giving Arceus about his weird ring things, as well as the jokes about how regal and godly he looks while he's totally oblivious to it. One wonders whether this has always been his personality or if he'd be far less of a modest goofball if he realized he was actually a god.

I also enjoy the setting of this story. The scene of Arceus coming into town was brief but effective, and the bits of pokémon culture we've gotten thus far, down to the reverence for Ho-Oh but apparent complete lack of knowledge of Arceus, are also intriguing. If there was one complaint I had here, it would be that I wish I knew what Arceus thought of the temple after he'd gone to see it! Was it so underwhelming that he could really believe it might have shocked him into amnesia? He didn't seem to have much reaction to the place at all.

This chapter lays a solid foundation for the rest of the story. You already have a clear central relationship between Arceus and Mallys, as well as the obvious plot hook--just how did Arceus lose his memories, and how did he end up wandering around in the middle of nowhere? Further questions like how legendaries play into this setting add further layers that it will no doubt be fun to explore in future chapters--how is it that Darkrai's leading a temple and no one seems to consider him a god, Ho-Oh is divine, and no one has any idea at all what Arceus is? There are questions both about the characters and about what's going on in the world, and I look forward to seeing how they get answered--if that's the direction this story is going to go!

All in all, I think this is a fun, unusual sort of pokémon story--I don't know if it's supposed to be a PMD or PMD send-up (it starts with an amnesiac pokémon in a world of pokémon, after all, although the pokémon has no memory of being human), but even if it isn't it works well in its own right. You do a nice job of setting up story threads that make the reader excited to know more, such as, of course, Arceus' entire deal, but also with things like Mallys' Ho-Oh statue and apparent familiarity with fighting. Right now I think mechanics are what you might want to focus on the most. Cleaning up the punctuation, grammar, and so on would make your writing clearer in places and generally make for a more pleasant reading experience. Fortunately once you learn the rules it all starts to come naturally with just a bit of practice!

This is a nice start for a fanfic, and I look forward to seeing where you go with it.
 

Raggy

(。◕‿‿◕。)
Location
East
Here is a chapter, nothing really to see.
It's not too bad I think, but I'm wrong a lot.

Thanks for looking in the box Negrek. Sorry that it was a travesty.


Chapter 2: To somewhere for the first time


There was a ringing sound. A messy clanging shattering the silence of the morning. For a few moments all Arceus did was lay still, feeling the grass against him. Slowly, he rose, blinking in the dim morning light.

Looking over, he saw Mallys in the same spot as he had been yesterday. He silently watched Arceus with half closed red eyes. There was a sharpness to them that didn’t make sense.

“Did you,” Arceus was startled. “-even sleep?”

“Yes.” The response was unconvincing in it’s singularity.

Arceus ignored it. “What’s that ringing sound?”

Mallys looked up into the air. “Sounds like the market bell opening for the morning.” He looked at Arceus, “You gonna head in?”

Arceus rose up, experimentally stretching each leg one at a time. “I suppose so, but-” He stopped for a moment, “Don’t you have to take care of your temple Mallys?”

Mallys smiled slightly. “It’s not the end of the world if I take a little break. You’re the most interesting thing that’s happened to me in years.”

There was a pause. “That’s right,” Arceus mused. “You said we were back to square one.”

“I suppose I might have included myself then.”

Arceus would have smiled back if he was able to.

------

The walk to the temple was much more quiet in the morning. The market was off in a different part of town though the ringing continued as Arceus could hear a distant cacophony separate from the bell. The obelisk looked skewed, the sun rising directly behind it from Arceus’ perspective and as he approached, he saw a curious ritual of sorts.

Several acolytes of the temple, identified by the yellow garments they wore were congregated around a large bucket. As he watched, they threw the bucket high into the air, letting water spill out partially over a side of the obelisk, but mostly over them. He could see a heated discussion taking place as they prepared another bucket of water.

“Conventionally an exercise in futility, but the point is the effort to realize the value of such.” Arceus looked over with a jolt to see Darkrai floating next to him. The shadowy pokemon looked at him with one blue eye. “Sorry”.

“So uh,” Arceus was lost for words. “It’s like a test?”

“You could say that,” Darkrai replied. “Perhaps more cynically, one could say character building.” He motioned for Arceus to walk towards the temple with him. “It would be simple for a more aerially inclined pokemon to wash the tower in a single motion. To that end, the goal is not to clean it, but to acknowledge the ease of a united world over a divided one.”

Arceus blinked, “That’s... really deep.” At this point, a particularly strong throw had hung the bucket off the top of the obelisk and a panic had ensued below as some of the group tried to climb the monument, a task rendered difficult by their earlier actions.

Darkrai looked away, “Truthfully, it’s a lofty expectation. But that’s why it continues, an expectation is not always an impossibility.”

The sentiment flew over Arceus’ head. He nodded anyway.

------

“The totality of your ‘forgetfulness’ is not something I can explain,” Darkrai spoke apologetically. Having heard the full extent of Arceus’ unfortunate condition, he had looked through a number of books before returning to him. They stood off to the side of the entry to the temple, watching the group that had finally managed to cover the entirety of the obelisk with water. Pokemon sat or lay in various positions around the plaza, drained from the earlier efforts.

“Huh...” Arceus felt a sinking feeling.

“That being said,” Darkrai continued, “What your friend said about the, ‘tourist syndrome’ or however it is referred, there is a chance that that could be a possibility, albeit I have never personally heard of it.”

Arceus looked at Darkrai, “What do you think I should do then”.

“This is just a theory,” Darkrai said. “It’s up to you to decide what you must do. But maybe if you continued as you had when you first came to this town, you’ll find this ‘Object of Supreme Disappointment’ so to speak”.

“So where would I start? Where would I go?”

Darkrai looked at the ceiling. “Despite this temple being referred to as Grand, it’s hardly so compared to some of the structures in the world. I know many such places, but perhaps you should ask your friend first. I know only the place, not the surroundings; as it is I have hardly left this town in years”.

Arceus took a moment to absorb the suggestion. “I, well, I guess I have to thank you again, for everything”.

Darkrai was impassive. “I have to be frank in this regard, your plight is one of a kind to me. It’s very cruel what happened to you, and for some reason, I feel obliged to help as best I can”.

Arceus found it almost funny. “I guess that makes two now. Pokemon seem to really want to help me out.”

“I can’t say for sure” Darkrai said, “But there’s something to you, something inexplicable, but almost beautiful.”

“If you’re calling me beautiful, I guess I can take it.” Arceus didn’t really know what to think.

“If that’s how you interpret as such.” Darkrai shrugged, “I’m sure you’ll figure everything out”.

------

Mallys couldn’t help but laugh. “The Object of Supreme Disappointment? Oh wow. I mean, it’s serious, really serious, but can you really expect me to react otherwise?”

Arceus shrugged. “It’s my problem, and I guess if I’m going to figure it out, that’ll just be a part of it.”

Mallys looked at Arceus seriously. “Yea, you’re right, I guess.”

“So what do you suggest?”

“You mean, where would you go?” Mallys thought about it. “There’s a big sanctuary in the village of Aibai. It’s known for that kind of- uh, spiritual cleansing and stuff like that.”

It wasn’t as if Arceus needed much convincing. “It’s a start. Where is it?”

Mallys pointed with a claw, “The other way, back past where we started. It’s a few days of travel by foot.”

Arceus was undeterred, “Not like I have a better way to spend my time”.

“So you’re leaving now?”

Arceus nodded, “I’ve done this before right?”

Mallys made a face. “Right, right”.

-----

It was late in the night when Arceus and Mallys reached the small temple again. Arceus watched in the dim light of hastily lit candles as Mallys polished the statue again. It looked like he was tired, his technique lacked much of the finesse he had previously and he seemed to be distracted.

“Well that’s that, if you’re ready we can go.” Mallys seemed content when he spoke.

“Huh?” Arceus was confused.

“We’ve done this before,” Mallys said lightly. “You can’t really expect to just wander around by yourself can you?” For a moment he seemed to wait for a response, but continued anyway, “You know, you don’t have a say in this, I’m coming with you”.

“O-ok. I thought you were just helping for a bit, but I guess...”

“Anyway,” Mallys continued. “I’m not that tired right now, so let’s go. You want to go right?”

“Well yea!” Arceus regained his composure. “If you want to go, then we’ll go. But if you’re coming, you better help me”.

“That’s the plan.” As Arceus walked away, Mallys looked around the temple one more time. In a single, silent motion the Haxorus wrapped his arms around the statue of Ho-Oh, holding it tightly for a moment. Then he followed Arceus outside.

<><><><>

The sun was high in the sky, perfect compliment for a breeze if there was one. Arceus and Mallys were on a rock in the center of a steam, Arceus sitting in the somewhat dignified position that his rings forced upon him, while Mallys lay on his side. Arceus watched the rushing stream, counting floating branches as a few basculin gawked at him from under the water. Mallys busily chowed on a collection of berries he had picked from various trees for the last hour.

“Strange question,” Mallys said in between mouthfuls. “Do you need to eat or anything? Or since you don’t have a mouth do you photosynthesize or whatever it’s called?”

Arceus looked over at Mallys. “Beats me. I haven’t really thought about it.” Arceus looked back at the water, watching the reflection of the light off the water. “It’s probably the photo thing though.”

“You know-” Mallys threw a berry at Arceus’ head, it missed and landed in the water. “It’s probably those rings.” He drew a circle in the air with one claw.

Arceus didn’t know enough to disagree, so he nodded. “Anyway, how close are we?”

Mallys looked at a waterfall in the distance. “We’ve been walking for what, 3 days? Actually we’re only a few hours out.”

“Really?” Arceus sprang up at this. “We should go then”.

Mallys looked at Arceus in surprise. “Alright, let’s go.”

The definition of go was more than Mallys expected as Arceus took off in a gallop down the path. Mallys made to run after him, but tripped and fell in the water. He realized his tusks were stuck partially in the sediment of the riverbed and frowned to himself. At the very least he thought, he would catch up eventually.

-----

The rolling hills seemed infinite, quickly tiring Arceus out. As he crested what seemed like the tallest hill yet, he could finally make out thin tree lines on the large mountain that had been looming ahead for a while. Its peak stuck out at an odd angle to the left, countless yellowish humps protruding around it. A portion of the mountain was a brilliant green, a massive forest stretching from the base to the top of one of the lower peaks, while curiously the other side was nearly bare. A mess of zigzagging terraces were cut into the side of the mountain, and small figures could be seen moving along them.

Also at the base of the mountain was a large village, presumably Aibai. Rows of buildings formed from thick wooden logs topped with a silvery metallic cover stretched outwards from a large pool that was ringed by a donut shaped building.

Mallys trudged up the hill out of breath. Stopping beside Arceus, he took in the scene. “It’s been a long time,” he said looking distant.

“You’ve been here before?” Arceus said, looking at Mallys.

“It was so long that I might as well not have. It’s changed a lot.”

“Then let’s see how much it’s changed.” Arceus began to walk down the hill, Mallys trailing behind.

“Where do you get that energy from anyway?” Mallys shouted after Arceus who turned back to look at the Haxorus.

“Good question,” was all he said before turning back.

----

Walking down the main street, Arceus could see many pokemon walking around with metallic adornments. There was a constant din as they continually shouted over each other, trying to sell various objects. An Audino competed with a Mightyena, both apparently wearing a stack of hats as they made a show of comparing materials.

“I do remember this,” Mallys spoke quietly to Arceus as they walked. “It’s an old trick, trying to sell you authentic souvenirs.” He made a face at one of the vendors who was eyeing them who backed off quickly before turning back to Arceus. “It’s not, not at all, and I don’t know how or why but I have a very good source for that.”

“I have no money, but I’ll keep it in mind.” Arceus was more focused on navigating the crowd than whatever Mallys was going on about. It was a losing battle, the crowd got thicker the closer they got to the pool. While the two of them generally towered over the crowd, Arceus could see other large pokemon having the same troubles further down the street. He looked at Mallys with wide eyes, the response was a nod.

It was almost a whole hour before they could make their way to the outer ring. Crossing to the opposing side on the foothills of the mountain, they could view the pool from a slightly elevated spot. Arceus carefully looked it over, his eyes narrow. Mallys was uninterested in the pool, watching Arceus for a reaction.

“So, disappointing huh?” Mallys said hopefully.

“It’s um-” Arceus looked for the right words. “It’s a hot spring?”

“It is,” Mallys replied. “Pretty hot from what I remember too”.

“Then where’s the spiritual cleansing part?” Arceus looked at Mallys. “Where’s the sanctuary? Or was that a personal experience?”

“No really, that’s what everyone says.” Mallys looked indignant. “You know, like mountain air is good for the body and stuff? Anyway, the spring is the sanctuary.”

Arceus said nothing for a moment, looking back at the pool. “This plus having to deal with that crowd was really annoying. But nothing’s happened either”.

“Not disappointing enough I guess?” Mallys gave Arceus an apologetic look.

“I guess not.” Arceus felt tired. “Maybe this won’t be that easy”.

“Don’t worry about it.” Mallys made a face at Arceus. “It’s like a trip you know?”

“Some kind of trip if the goal is to have the worst time imaginable.”

“I heard someone say once that if the result is what you want then the effort was worth it.” Mallys paused. “I think”.

“The result that I want...” Arceus trailed off. He realized with a start that he’d never thought of it in terms of remembering who he was. Rather, he had considered it as simply solving a problem. “I want to remember myself,” he said finally. It was unconvincing.

“You don’t sound like you want to,” Mallys said. “I think we need to take a moment to put this all in perspective. I kinda need it too.” Mallys gestured at Arceus, “Lay it out for both of us, it’s your show after all”.

“Well, I-” Arceus started.

“Actually wait,” Mallys interjected. “Don’t say well, you say that often, just own it. Be real!”

Arceus wondered for a moment what it meant to be real, but took the advice to heart anyway. “I don’t know why I am here, and I also don’t know who I was before this happened.” Arceus looked at Mallys for reassurance, the Haxorus waved a claw to continue. “Since we have nothing to go on and no leads other than your suggestion, we’re looking to find something so disappointing, it will jolt me into remembering things in the same way I forgot them.”

Mallys made a face. “When you say it like that, it sounds really silly. But, there really isn’t any other way to say it when I think about it?” Mallys kicked up dust with one foot as he thought. “It’s not that bad though, even if this trip won’t solve anything, we’ll probably run into someone who knows something eventually, right?”

Hearing Mallys say that made Arceus feel a bit better. “You’re right,” he sighed. “So what do we do now?”

Mallys looked at the sky. “It’ll be late soon, and as much as I know you’d want to go right away, I’d rather rest here tonight.” Mallys grinned, “-and to that end, I won’t tell you anything about where we could go next.”

Arceus gave Mallys the best rueful look he could manage. “I guess you have me chained to you now. I wasn’t even planning to run off just so you know, I’m tired too.”

“Now you’re being sensible, let’s go!”

“Yea, lets.” Arceus started walking, then spoke again, “Thanks as usual Mallys, I- I needed that.”

Mallys looked at Arceus, still smiling, “Don’t mention it. In fact, I should be the one thanking you.”

“For what?”

“Oh you know, just-” Mallys kind of waved his claws in the air and didn’t finish.

Arceus didn’t get it, but went along anyway. “You’re welcome then”.

--------

There was a pain in Arceus’ neck. The previous night he had attempted to sleep in a different position, leaning himself against a slope. Mallys assisted in this by digging a recess for his rings to rest in and so it was. This obviously did not agree with his body and now he was paying for it.

Arceus groaned and shifted back to his normal sitting pose, stretching his neck from side to side in an attempt to alleviate the pain. He looked around blearily, Mallys was nowhere to be seen. Arceus didn’t care, he just wanted to rest more. He was able to doze off for some time flitting in and out of sleep until suddenly he felt something cold on his head.

He blinked and was still for a moment before he started to look up. As he did this, he heard Mallys pipe up.

“Wait, wait! Don’t do that yet, let me get it off first.” Arceus froze in place as he felt Mallys gently take the thing off his head. “Sorry, I just thought it would be funny.” Arceus looked at Mallys who was holding a pair of large round objects.

“Mallys, what are those?” Arceus was curious as he slowly woke up.

“Donuts!” Mallys exclaimed. “Cold donuts that is, like chilled. It’s an Aibai specialty.”

“I don’t uh, have a way to understand it, but how do they taste?”

Mallys seemed slightly agitated. “You know that’s just the thing. I would have been fine with one, but I got two because I was thinking of you, without remembering that you couldn’t really-” He gestured with the donuts. “-eat one. But anyway, it’s a real energy booster. Sugar for days”.

Arceus nodded. “I don’t get it, but I think I can understand the feeling”.

Mallys took a big bite out of one donut. “Anyway, when I was out earlier I remembered that there was supposed to be some kind of shrine up on the mountain; a few locals say it’s still there too.”

“Shrines, temples, pools, a lot of, uh, sacred stuff in a way-” Arceus was thoughtful. “Like, I’m thinking now, what if the thing that was really disappointing was a rock or some natural formation?”

“I get what you mean, but it doesn’t make much of a difference,” Mallys said. “We’ll just visit whatever we can get until something sticks.”

Arceus nodded again. “Sounds good. A shrine then? What kind?”

Mallys shrugged. “They didn’t specify. It’s probably something similar to the spring, good health or something along those lines.”

“Let’s go then.” Arceus looked at Mallys who nodded in return. “I think you should finish your donuts first.”
 

Negrek

Spindrift
Staff
No travesty here! This chapter is already looking better in terms of punctuation and such things.

“I suppose I might have included myself then.”
Not sure what this sentence means, though.

Arceus looked at Darkrai, “What do you think I should do then”.
When you're writing spoken dialogue, the punctuation almost always wants to go inside the quotation marks. Here you also want a question mark rather than a period, so it would come out to, "What do you think I should do, then?"

The little washing-the-obelisk scene was fun. It's a believable challenge you could imagine acolytes being made to do in order to learn a lesson, and it's also a nice humor spot. I liked how you kind of interjected updates on what was up with the obelisk throughout Arceus' conversation with Darkrai--it was a neat scene-within-a-scene. And fun to imagine the frantic activity when the bucket got stuck on top of the obelisk and people were trying to climb it, hah.

Arceus was undeterred, “Not like I have a better way to spend my time”.
Should be a period after "undeterred" here. Same thing you did when you wrote "Mallys made a face. 'Right, right.'" That one's correct!

- It's "yeah," not "yea." So should be "Well yeah," "Yeah, you're right, I guess," "Yeah, let's," etc.

The sun was high in the sky, perfect compliment for a breeze if there was one.
Kind of a funky sentence here. Usually you'd say whether there was a breeze or not, you know? Rather than leaving it ambiguous like this.

Honestly, cold donuts sound super gross to me, but I'm not much of a donut person to begin with, so probably not the best one to ask. It's a neat touch to have a local specialty like that--again, you're doing a really nice job of the setting. The world you have here feels distinct from the PMD world as well as the world of the games, a place with its own character. And, as Arceus points out, a lot of shrines! It's rare to see these kinds of religious sites in pokémon fanfic, so it's

Arceus is shaping up to be an interesting character. Rather reserved and timid for a god-like being! Again, I have to wonder whether this is anything like his personality before he lost his memories. I like how he keeps not understanding what people say but feeling too uncomfortable to ask for clarification or contradict them; it feels genuine and definitely consistent with the rest of his character. And, like Mallys, I have to wonder where he gets his energy from if he can't eat! I also wonder what his motivation is. He's been going with the flow, pretty much following Mallys' instructions--it definitely rings true that he doesn't particularly want to remember who he is. He doesn't seem to want much of anything! I wonder whether that will change in the future.

I also really like the way his relationship with Mallys is shaping up. Mallys has clearly been lonely, and again, there's something more going on with him. He's obviously grown fond of Arceus really fast, and their budding frienship is really cute. I imagine whatever it is that's in his past is going to catch up with them eventually, though. And maybe whatever it was that caused Arceus to lose his memories, too! Things have been pretty quiet so far, but if your intro is anything to go by, it's not going to stay that way. Onward!
 

Raggy

(。◕‿‿◕。)
Location
East
This is a chapter. I think.
It might not be, it's a mistake I've made before.

Shoutout to Negrek for not shooting me on sight.

👍

Chapter 3: Toner

The sun was halfway across the sky as they made their way up the zig-zagging path of the mountain. There was little in the way of vegetation save for small weeds dotting the ground, miserable yellowish clumps that tripped Mallys. Whatever had cut the path into the mountain was thorough, the rock walls were smooth. Arceus and Mallys encountered few pokemon on their upward trek, a few sightseers looking off at the rolling plains and the occasional local carrying various objects down the mountain.

At a point around halfway to the peak of one of the spires, they found a pathway leading under a rock arch to an enclosed area. Long sharp formations jutted upwards forming a cover over a circular area. Light filtered in through the cracks between the rocks revealing patches of grass, greener and fuller than the shrubs on the slopes. A few pokemon milled about in relative quiet. Along the the rock walls, there was an assortment of items, a broken wagon, a faded pickax, a crumpled pile of rubbish that looked like it was used to wrap something. Some of the pokemon looked briefly at Arceus and Mallys as they came into the clearing, but turned away after a moment.

Mallys nudged Arceus and motioned straight ahead. A large entrance was cut into the mountainside. The top was rounded slightly, both sides of the hole supported by large beams of wood criss-crossed with dead vegetation.

“Hey hey, what brings a couple of brutes up here,” a voice called out to them.

Arceus and Mallys turned to see a Lurantis approaching them. The mantis pokemon was covered in dust and mud in several places, it’s pink coloring along its body was faded, and nearly all of it’s left antenna was gone, leaving a little stub. It looked over them with obvious disapproval and a small frown.

“It doesn’t matter how big you are, we’ll still stay here,” the Lurantis spoke defiantly.

“That’s fine, you don’t need to move.” Arceus was visibly confused, but he tried to be friendly anyway. “We’re just tourists.”

The Lurantis looked at him suspiciously. “This high up the mountain? I doubt it.” Around them, the assorted pokemon were watching carefully. Strangely many of them looked apologetic.

“No really,” Arceus said. “We just wanted to see a shrine that’s supposed to be here.”

The reaction was immediate. Scattered murmurs and whispering erupted among the pokemon surrounding them. Mallys looked around uncomfortably before looking at Arceus who didn’t seem to notice.

“So, is there a shrine here?” Arceus asked.

The Lurantis glared at the other pokemon. “Maybe. I’ve heard things but I don’t know myself.” She looked at the pair as if evaluating them. “The old mines can be pretty dangerous though, I wouldn’t go looking if I were you.”

Arceus was about to reply when Mallys wrapped an arm around Arceus’ long neck and forcibly walked him towards the entrance to the mountain. “We’ll figure it out, we’re pretty tough anyway.” He made a painfully fake smile at the Lurantis who glared back but made no move to stop them.

ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ

“Mallys.” Arceus was thoughtful as he was dragged along the tunnel by the agitated Haxorus, his hooves leaving a line in the ground. “What’s wrong?”

“Being daft is something you’re good at,” Mallys replied. “That was obviously a situation”.

“Situation? You think so?” Arceus could tell the pokemon outside weren’t friendly, but he didn’t particularly feel any hostility.

“All I can say is that it wouldn’t have been a very good time.” Mallys shook his head saying this. He stopped, letting go of Arceus who took a moment to right himself. “Although, that might also be a good thing for us.”

“How so?”

“When you asked that pokemon about the shrine, it really set them off. I think we might have not heard the whole truth.” Mallys looked at Arceus as he said this.

“We were lied to?” Arceus said.

There was a gleam in Mallys’ eye. “What do you think?”

-----
“You’re taking this a bit far.”



The Lurantis scowled at the Hariyama as they stood by the entrance to the cave. “I remember when I used to say that.”

The Hariyama nodded. “Funny right?”

An unreadable expression crossed the bug’s face. “Not at all. You would have gotten rid of them in an instant. Everyone would have.”

A moment passed before the Hariyama answered, his expression distant. “‘Would have’ is the point. The union doesn’t care about us anymore.”

The Hariyama watched the Lurantis for a moment. “You’re not listening are you?” He sighed, slumping in defeat. “You know we all care about you.” There was a pause. “No matter what.”

-----

The winding caves were a rough experience the verticality varying wildly in comparison to the width which somehow remained consistent. Tunnels at points were almost entirely blocked by piles of rubble that reached the ceiling, easily navigable to smaller pokemon but impassable to the pair, especially Arceus’s rings. Mallys made quick work of the blockages, smashing them left and right. He seemed to have fun.

A ways into the cave they arrived at a split in the road, punctuated by a concentration of mushrooms, large in size and glowing brightly, creating a noticeable green hue. Stalactites and stalagmites stretched across the floor and ceiling in both directions. Mallys experimentally tapped a stalactite, it broke off and fell into his claws.

“This must be a naturally formed cave,” Mallys said examining the rock. “It doesn’t look like the mine.”

Arceus looked at the rocks in wonder. “A mine huh.” He looked at Mallys. “If this is a natural cave though, does that mean we missed the shrine?”

Mallys shook his head. “I have a feeling this shrine is hidden, if you know what I mean. Plus, the mine so far hasn’t been anywhere nearly as dangerous as that Lurantis made it sound.”

“I guess not,” Arceus said, looking back at the tunnel they had come from. “Do you think it’s really that dangerous?”

“All we can do now is figure that out.” Mallys looked at the mass of rock formations in both directions. “Can I assume you can defend yourself or at least have tough skin?”

Arceus was unsettled by Mallys’ words, but nodded. “I- I think I can defend myself, and my rings are pretty tough.”

“I was just asking,” Mallys replied, “It’s not like anything is going to happen. I’ll take the lead, so don’t worry about it.” With that said, he headed left, smashing stalagmites and stalactites with with reckless abandon as Arceus followed. Eventually they were stopped. Mallys looked around the wide cavern for a moment, the walls were solid, lined with mushrooms and rock protrusions. “Looks like a problem.”

Arceus stared at the tunnel in front of them. It sloped at a steep angle, ending in a rippling pool of greenish water. Mushrooms under the water illuminated it somewhat, though the glow was greatly diminished.

“Do we have to go the other way now?” Arceus looked at Mallys, shuffling with uncertainty.

“It was just out of sight for you, but the other end was caved in,” Mallys said looking at the water, “This is the only way forward.”

Arceus glanced apprehensively at the submerged tunnel. He was already imagining getting lost underwater. “But you’ve been smashing rocks all over the place,” he said, looking at Mallys pensively.

Mallys threw a few pebbles into the water. “That was small stuff. But uh, we could go back too, it’s not like seeing this shrine is that important, and plus it’s a kind of disappointment in and of itself.”

“It- it is.” Arceus poked at the water with a hoof. It was cold. “Not finding it after how far down we’ve come-” There was a pause before Arceus perked up. “But that makes me want to find it even more, because now I’m anticipating it- doesn’t that make the chance for disappointment even greater?”

Mallys blinked in surprise. “That’s a good point.”

“Mallys,” Arceus said. “Are you sure that the shrine is somewhere past here?”

“I’m fairly certain-” the Haxorus started to respond before Arceus interrupted him.

“Actually that doesn’t matter. If there’s nothing there, then that’ll be disappointing too”.

“You’re really into this now,” Mallys said. “No one’s ever bet my intuition before, except that one time.”

Arceus felt really good for some reason. In a strange way the thought of disappointment was exciting. It was kind of creepy. “It’s a bet then I guess.” He nodded. “Anyway, can you swim Mallys?”

“I can manage, I’m more concerned if you can swim.”

“I can do it,” Arceus replied. “Besides, I’m pretty sure I don’t need air.”

“Oh, that does work in your favor doesn’t it.” Mallys seemed convinced. “Alright, you should go first then, easier for me to backtrack if I start running out of air.”

“Will you?” Arceus asked.

“I won’t. Don’t look back at me, just focus on reaching the other end.”

Arceus couldn’t help but feel a bit worried. “What if the path branches?”

“Pick the largest tunnel,” Mallys said. “Hope for the best.”

“I can’t just do that.” Arceus was indignant. “What if I lead you to a dead end?”

For a moment, there was an odd expression on Mallys’ face. “That’s nice of you to think of me, but I’ll be fine, I promise.”

“How can I be sure of your promise?”

“If it was really such a great personal risk, don’t you think I just wouldn’t do it?” Mallys was impassive. “It’s not like I’m trying to hurt myself.”

“If you say so.” Arceus still was uncertain, but there was something in Mallys’ tone that convinced him. For a moment he looked at the dark water, feeling both eager and apprehensive in equal measure.

“Don’t think about it, just go.” Mallys spoke from behind him.

“You sure do tell me not to do a lot of things,” Arceus said in mock exasperation.

“I guess I do.” Mallys smiled.

Arceus dived into the water in a single fluid motion. Mallys waited for a moment, then jumped in after him.

/////◔ ⌣ ◔////

Arceus felt relieved. Ahead of him was the dim ripple of the surface. The caves had been mercifully uneventful, he hadn’t even seen a single branch in the path. Feeling a burst of energy, Arceus pushed forwards breaking the water. The cave he emerged in was different from the one they had come from, the mushrooms were much brighter, emitting a lime green color. The air was stagnant and the sound of dripping water echoed from somewhere as Arceus pulled himself out of the water. Settling into a good position to dry off, he watched the pool patiently for Mallys. As minute after minute passed, it became harder for Arceus to remain still, he had made a promise not to worry, but it was becoming an increasingly tough one to keep.

There was a ripple in the water that Arceus noticed immediately. Suddenly the surface exploded upwards in a mass of water, momentarily blinding Arceus. Blinking a few times as the water settled, he looked back at the water, his eyes widening in shock.

Two protrusions pinkish in color extended upwards. A pink head with two beady eyes stared at him from the water, regarding him with a strange glint of determination.

“Hey!” The Lurantis waved at him.

Arceus panicked. Without acknowledging the other pokemon, he dived back into the water. He looked around underwater in the green glow, but saw nothing. Focusing hard, he peered down the tunnel, but he saw nothing. He resurfaced with a wild glint in his eyes as he looked at the Lurantis, who was sitting idle on the cave floor, watching him.

“Did you see my friend underwater?” Arceus spoke quickly, slurring some of the words together.

“I’ll assume you meant that Haxorus,” the Lurantis spoke dryly. “I didn’t see anything, the underwater tunnels are a huge network anyway, so it’s a coincidence that we even ended up in the same place.”

The Lurantis’ words were lost on Arceus who was already pacing in a circle.

“Then, Mallys might be in trouble!” Arceus looked at the water. “I have to go help him, I have to-” He stopped, Mallys’ words ringing in his mind. If he went to look for Mallys unnecessarily, then it would mean Arceus didn’t trust him. But if Mallys really was in trouble, then he would lose his friend to empty words. His head swarmed with all sorts of contradictions, and Arceus didn’t know what to do.

I have to trust Mallys, he thought to himself. But how well could he trust someone he had known for less than a week? All the same, how much of a friend could Mallys be in that short a time?

“It’s ok,” Arceus said to himself. “He promised.” Slowly, steadily, he forced himself to stand still, and surprisingly he felt calm.

The Lurantis was confused, “Who promised what? Are you ok?”

“I am now,” Arceus said. “Mallys will be fine.”

“Yeah, you probably hit your head underwater.” The Lurantis gave Arceus a strange look. “I hope you get better.”

Arceus ignored the statement. “Why are you down here?”

“A couple of tourists getting lost in the mines would bring us more trouble than we already have. Didn’t think you guys would do something like this though.”

Arceus looked at her. “Is the shrine close by?”

The Lurantis looked at him incredulously, “What about your friend? You were about to cry or something.”

“He’ll be fine,” Arceus said to the visible suspicion of the Lurantis.

“I see.”

“Anyway,” Arceus continued. “While I’m waiting for him, what’s your name”.

“Mel,” the Lurantis said. “That’s all you’re going to get.”

“Alright Mel,” Arceus replied. “I guess now-” He was cut off by a splashing sound. Mallys emerged from the water, looking none the worse for wear. “Mallys!” Arceus said happily.

Mallys stuck a claw out from under the water as he floated in place. “Sorry it took so long, I had to go back once, didn’t get a good rhythm the first time.” He looked over at the Lurantis, “Oh hey. I suppose it makes sense you would follow us.”

Mel seemed surprised. “You’re Mallys?” She seemed lost for words. “Strange name.”

Mallys nodded. “I’ve heard that one before.”

“Hey Mel, do you want to help us look for the shrine?” Arceus asked. He tried to appear solemn but was secretly happy he didn’t have to make a decision anymore.

Mel shrugged. “As I said earlier, I don’t even know if there’s something like that down here.” She stared off into the darkness of the tunnel ahead. “Though since I’m here, I might as well.”


------

They entered a large cavern that seemed to stretch forever. Boulders of all sizes were strewn around the floor, and the usual green glow was tinged with red from odd growths scattered around the room. The bulbous masses looked like tumors, covered in a layer of fuzz that swayed slightly. Arceus poked one with a hoof, it sank slightly inwards, expanding to its original size when he stopped.

“What are these Mel?” Arceus asked curiously.

Mel poked one with one of her scythes. “Mushrooms I guess.” She stepped back as the bulb she had poked exploded. For a moment there was nothing, then a smoky smell began to waft around the area. Arceus looked at the remains of the mushroom in surprise, Mallys frowned slightly.

Arceus looked around the cave. “Where do we go from here?”

“I don’t know.” Mallys blinked apparently bothered by something. “Let’s look around.”

Mel leaned against a wall with her eyes closed as Arceus and Mallys searched the huge chamber. Columns of rock extended from the floor to the ceiling, leaning erratically in all directions. The ground was littered with jagged points and irregular slants, forcing Arceus to carefully navigate around the uneven plane.

“Have you ever thought about dying?” Mallys stared pensively into the darkness.

“What?” Arceus was caught off guard, losing his balance and falling face first to the ground. “Ugh- what do you mean?” He looked up at Mallys while trying to compose himself. “I uh, well I haven’t really thought about it.”

Mallys’ mouth moved as if he were chewing on something. “That’s nice.”

“How is that nice?” Arceus stared at the back of Mallys’ head. “What do you mean about dying?”

“Arceus.” Mallys had an unusually serious look on his face. “I trust you. You know that?”

“Mallys?” Arceus looked at him in confusion. “Is something wrong-”.

He was cut off as Mallys began to violently cough, stumbling against a rock with a loud thud. “Sorry,” Mallys said before collapsing in a heap.

Arceus was frozen. Any words he had were lost in the air. Watching Mallys quietly groaning on the ground, he could barely speak. “What, what- happened?”

There was no answer.

Arceus looked around, panicking again. “Mel? Something’s wrong”.

Again there was no answer and Arceus was alone.

--

Arceus wandered the chamber in a daze. Every time he heard Mallys cough, he jolted in fright.

What do I do?

What happens now?


Over and over he thought this, stopping suddenly at random. As he paced, he only barely registered Mel appear next to him. The Lurantis gave Arceus a steely glance as she suddenly slid under him, hooking a scythe arm around the middle section of his rings from underneath and throwing him sideways.

Arceus didn’t comprehend much as he bounced off the side of a rock. Standing up, he looked at Mel who had assumed a strange position. “Mel?” he asked. “Is something wrong?”

“Immune huh-” Mel’s stare was unwavering. “That doesn’t make a difference.” She glanced at Mallys inert form. “You’re the most tenacious ones yet, you can’t get us to leave so now you go after what’s most important to us?”

“Intimidator? I didn’t mean to intimidate-” Arceus was cut off as the Lurantis raked both scythes across the side of his face, sending him off balance. Stumbling around, he was more confused than hurt. “We’re not bad, really! You’re confusing us with someone else.”

“And I have a really good reason to believe you, don’t I.” Mel replied sarcastically. “It’s easy to lie to someone you don’t care about.”

“I didn’t- didn’t do anything,” Arceus muttered.

“Not yet you haven’t,” Mel said. Twisting to the left, she nailed the side of Arceus’ head with a vicious butterfly kick sending him sprawling to the cave floor. Before he could get up, she drove a knee into his head.

As Arceus lay shocked on the ground, he looked over to see Mallys making a face at him.

“Arceus.” Mallys’ voice was a whisper. “You have to do something. Fight back, die, I don’t know, just do it.” With that, Mallys collapsed unconscious.

“I have to decide?” Arceus said to himself. For a moment, he looked between Mallys’ inert form and Mel who was angrily staring at him. Closing his eyes to calm himself, he felt a rush of energy. As he opened his eyes again, he narrowly avoided Mel bearing down on him with a forearm drop. Picking himself up, he faced the Lurantis head on. Arceus took a moment to compose himself “Hey.” Mel didn’t move as Arceus addressed her. “I’m going to hit you.”

Mel looked at him blankly before shaking her head and charging at Arceus again.

I don’t know anything about fighting, Arceus thought. But here goes nothing.

Mel raised her scythes over her head, swinging downward to slash Arceus across his front. In response, he lowered his head and backed up. Mel realized that Arceus was going to headbutt her, but couldn’t stop her momentum in time. As his head collided with her scythes, Mel was sent backwards rolling along the floor in a heap while Arceus almost toppled sideways from the force. Regaining his balance, Arceus looked around, spotting the Lurantis lying on the ground a distance away. He walked over, feeling guilty for a moment.

“Ugh, sorry,” Arceus said to Mel. With little fanfare, he lifted his foot and stomped on the Lurantis, knocking the air out of Mel in an instant. Arceus repeated this twice, and Mel was unconscious.

Arceus was by himself now, the silence of the cave returning. It was very anticlimactic.
 

Negrek

Spindrift
Staff
Ah, so perhaps this is where the "bad things" promised by the initial summary start to come into play? Things take an interesting turn here; before we've kind of been traveling from place to place, letting whatever happens happen, but now there's something almost like an antagonist.

Some grammar/presentation notes, and then back to the story itself! One thing to watch out for is what's called a comma splice; it's where you join two sentences together with a comma. You should either use a conjunction, like "and" or "but," along with the comma, or simply make it two sentences. For example:

Whatever had cut the path into the mountain was thorough, the rock walls were smooth.
"Whatever had cut the path into the mountain was thorough" and "the rock walls were smooth" are both complete sentences, so you shouldn't join them with just a comma the way you have here. Either "Whatever had cut the path into the mountain was thorough, and the rock walls were smooth." or "Whatever had cut the path into the mountain was thorough. The rock walls were smooth." would work.

Mallys experimentally tapped a stalactite, it broke off and fell into his claws.
Here, you could go with either "Mallys experimentally tapped a stalactite, and it broke off and fell into his claws." or "Mallys experimentally tapped a stalactite. It broke off and fell into his claws."

As minute after minute passed, it became harder for Arceus to remain still, he had made a promise not to worry, but it was becoming an increasingly tough one to keep.
This sentence is a bit more complicated, but it's the same basic deal. "As minute after minute passed, it became harder for Arceus to remain still" is a sentence, and so is, "He had made a promise not to worry, but it was becoming an increasingly tough one to keep." Since this is a fairly long sentence it might be better to split it up, but you could also stick a "but" in there after "still," and it would be fine.

Here are a couple of places where you do things correctly:

Arceus could tell the pokemon outside weren’t friendly, but he didn’t particularly feel any hostility.
"Arceus could tell the pokémon outside weren't friendly" and "He didn't particularly feel any hostility" are both complete sentences, so using a comma along with "but" is the correct way to stick them together.

It sloped at a steep angle, ending in a rippling pool of greenish water.
Here it's correct to use a comma alone because "ending in a rippling pool of greenish water" isn't a sentence.

The mantis pokemon was covered in dust and mud in several places, it’s pink coloring along its body was faded, and nearly all of it’s left antenna was gone, leaving a little stub.
Here it should be its pink coloring and its left antenna. Just like when you wrote "its body was faded"--that one is correct!

-----
“You’re taking this a bit far.”



The Lurantis scowled at the Hariyama as they stood by the entrance to the cave. “I remember when I used to say that.”
It looks like your formatting might have gotten a little messed up here.

“I was just asking,” Mallys replied, “It’s not like anything is going to happen. I’ll take the lead, so don’t worry about it.”
"I was just asking" is complete sentence, and the next piece of dialogue starts a completely different sentence, so you actually want a period after "Mallys replied."

“No one’s ever bet my intuition before, except that one time.”
Maybe this is an idiom I'm not familiar with, but to me it would sound more natural to say "bet on my intuition."

But how well could he trust someone he had known for less than a week? All the same, how much of a friend could Mallys be in that short a time?
These two sentences look like they say the same thing to me.

“While I’m waiting for him, what’s your name”.
Should be "what's your name?", with the question mark inside the quotation marks.

Like I said, this is an interesting chapter, different from the previous ones. You've hinted that there's more going on with this whole mining thing than is apparent to Arceus and Mallys, and I'm interested to see where you go with that. In the past there have been things that kind of hint at a larger story in the background, like Darkrai's temple, but this is the first one where it really feels like this is a plot thread we might keep pulling at. Curious to see where you go with that, if anywhere!

This little spelunking bit is nice. As usual, your environmental descriptions are a highlight. Love the glowy mushrooms for your fantasy cave system.

I enjoyed the part where Arceus started getting excited over the prospect of being disappointed. He and Mallys are really fun together.

Of course it's no surprise that Arceus is good at fighting despite having no idea what he's doing. Poor Lurantis, accidentally picking on the god of all pokémon--or not so poor, considering what she did to Mallys! It might be an anticlimax, but you end on a bit of a cliffhanger here. Look forward to whatever happens next!
 

Raggy

(。◕‿‿◕。)
Location
East
One day I'll figure out what it means to edit.
Until then, milk chocolate toblerone for dayys

This doesn't mean I'm going to stop eating chocolate if I figure out how to write
At least I hope so.


Chapter 4: Inveterate losers


They sat together on the edge of a cliff in the moonlight. Arceus was fidgeting nervously.

“Are you angry at me?” Arceus looked at Mallys. “I-I’m sorry.”

Mallys looked exasperated. He shook his head and pointed a claw at his throat.

“But...” Arceus was confused. “I got you water right?”

Mallys rolled his eyes.

“Huh.” Arceus looked at his hooves for a moment. “Are you saying you can’t talk?”

Mallys nodded slowly, patting Arceus on the back.

“I suppose I look silly,” Arceus said. “Today really hasn’t been a good one.”

“You can say that again,” a voice added.

Arceus and Mallys looked behind them in surprise to see Mel, looking a little worn out, but otherwise uninjured.

“Mel! You’re better.” Arceus sounded happy.

“I uh- yes I am,” Mel said.

Arceus nodded contentedly.

“I’ve been told that what I did was very wrong,” Mel spoke simply. “I apologize for attacking you, but I don’t apologize for my reasoning.”

“I don’t really understand, but that’s OK,” Arceus said.

Mel crossed her arms. “I don’t care what you have...” She stopped, processing Arceus’ reply. “That’s OK?”

“Mistakes happen. I can give you the uh- the benefit of the doubt I think?” Arceus slowly tilted his head from side to side as he spoke.

The Lurantis was silent for a moment, her mouth slightly ajar. “You’re impossible,” she said, shaking her head. “What am I supposed to think? I try to kill both of you, something we can all see I failed miserably at. Then once I screwed that up, you brought me all the way back up here anyway. Now you’re happy to see me?”

“I am,” Arceus said. “Can’t speak for Mallys though, but neither can he.”

“Mm,” Mel grunted apologetically. “The mushrooms down there release some spore. It really messes you up.”

“Messes you up how?” Arceus looked back at Mallys who didn’t seem to react.

Mel shrugged. “Not like I know the specifics.”

“Does that mean Mallys won’t be able to talk ever?”

“No, no way,” Mel said. “It’s just something that takes time to heal.”

Arceus nodded. For a while, no one spoke.

“Sorry, you know,” Mel shifted from side to side as she spoke. “I uh, I misjudged you.”

“That’s ok! We’re sorry too.”

Mallys and Mel both looked at Arceus in surprise. “Sorry for what?” Mel asked.

“Well, we weren’t exactly forthcoming with you either.”

“That... that doesn’t really matter now.” Mel shook her head. “I attacked you guys first.”

“Well I...” Arceus paused. “We all make mistakes, so I forgive you.”

Mel was shocked. “Just like that?”

Arceus nodded, “I’m sure of it. Mallys does too, I think.” They looked at Mallys who shrugged. “That’s probably a yes,” Arceus added.

“Just like that...” Mel repeated. “I guess I owe you one now.”

“Not really, I don’t need anything,” Arceus replied.

“I don’t mean it like that. I meant that- uh, well- ugh, whatever.”

“Oh, I guess I’ll go now.” Mel shuffled awkwardly. She began to slowly walk away as Arceus watched. After a moment, Mel suddenly stopped before turning around and sprinting back towards them.

“Wait. What if-” She stopped to catch her breath. “Do you uh, still want to see the shrine?”

“That’s still an option?” Arceus said in surprise.

“Trying to kill you was my idea,” Mel said sheepishly. “This is my idea too, kind of balancing it out.”

Arceus considered this for a moment. “Ok! Let’s go.” He glanced over to Mallys. “Do you want to come with us Mallys?”

Mallys shook his head and waved them away with a claw.

“Oh well,” Arceus said. “It makes sense that he would rather just hang around.” Nodding at Mel, they made they way back towards the mine.

/[--------]\

Arceus and Mel walked through the winding caves again.

“So when we first came, were you just following us the whole time?” Arceus asked.

“Yea, all the way.” Mel scratched her head with a scythe. “I actually messed up, back when you were asking how I found you, I said I came from a connecting tunnel.”

“And?”

“That underwater tunnel was a straight shot, no branches or anything,” Mel said as she walked. “If you could see underwater, you’d know that.”

Arceus blinked. “I don’t really remember if I saw that or not.”

“That’s just how it was then.” Mel seemed to want to drop the topic.

“So what about all the pokemon up top.” Arceus tilted his head upwards. “Are you all like a family?”

“Might as well be,” Mel said. “We just look out for each other.”

“I guess you don’t trust outsiders then.”

Mel sighed. “It’s not quite that. For one, no one really makes a point to come this far up the mountain. The ones that do, more often than not are usually thugs trying to scare us.”

“You were saying something about that,” Arceus said. “It was that you wouldn’t leave no matter what.”

“It’s exactly as it sounds. The thing is that the town at the base of the mountain is looking to expand.”

“Expand?” Arceus was curious. “What do you mean?”

“You walked through the town to get up here, at least I think you did.”

Arceus briefly remembered the crowds, the pushing, the time wasted. “It’s really crowded?”

“That’s it basically,” Mel said. “Real estate.”

Arceus put the pieces together. “So the town wants you guys gone so it can build houses?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think I care.” Mel shrugged. “They’re just out to remove us miners however they can.”

“Miners?” Arceus kicked a rock aside with a hoof.

Mel waved her scythes at Arceus. “Yeah. That’s why I’m here, these can cut rocks easily.” She frowned “Well, it was why we were here, there’s nothing left to mine.”

“Then why do you stay?” Arceus was puzzled.

“It’s a bit complicated,” Mel said. “Speaking of complicated, could you explain why you guys came up here?”

Arceus nodded slowly. “That’s a strange story, you might not believe it.”

“Try me.”

Arceus explained in detail the events of the past few days, his forgetfulness, their search. Mel’s expression became increasingly bemused as the explanation continued, eventually she took to watching the ceiling with her mouth slightly open. When he finished, Mel was lost for words, sputtering incoherently for a moment before she began to laugh.

Arceus wasn’t surprised. “I think I can understand that reaction.”

“So you’re-” Mel broke off in another fit of laughter. “You guys are looking for something that’s so underwhelming, you’ll remember who you are because of it?”

“Yes, that’s it.”

Mel had to catch her breath for a moment, “That’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. Actually, it is.” She took a deep breath. “-but you’re really into it.”

Arceus gave her a pointed look. “I don’t have any better ideas. Anyway, you seem a lot better than you were earlier.”

“Really?” Mel said. “I guess, now that I know you’re not that bad, I feel a bit better. Also-” Mel paused for a moment. “There’s just something calming about being around you”.

“Me?” Arceus didn’t feel very calm.

“Maybe you were a therapist or something before you forgot,” Mel offered helpfully.

“I don’t really see myself as a therapist,” Arceus said.

“Well uh, what about a massage therapist?”

“Massage?” Arceus looked at his hooves. “Do you think I could do that?”

“When you stomped on my face, that was pretty forceful,” Mel said.

“Don’t remind me.”


ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ


The cavern was the same as they had left it. Arceus examined a large patch of the red mushrooms as Mel messed with something in a corner.

“Now that I look at them closer, they really do look dangerous!” Arceus exclaimed.

“I don’t know why those things grow here.” Mel looked up at Arceus as she said this. She stared at him for a few moments in confusion before speaking again. “Wait, you don’t have a mouth at all, do you?”

“No, not at all. At least I’m pretty sure I don’t,” Arceus said.

“That’s really weird,” Mel said, walking over to him. “So you’re like one of those psychic pokemon or something, like, your voice just comes out of your face somehow.”

“One way to explain it I guess,” Arceus said. “Anyway, the thing’s around here?”

“You mean the shrine? Yea, follow me.” Mel walked back to a corner with Arceus in tow. “If you’re looking for disappointment, then this definitely fits the bill.” For a moment, Arceus thought he was being tricked. The shrine was a little hole in the wall that Mel had uncovered, it was a simple arrangement of small sticks surrounded by bits and pieces of things.

“Is this the shrine?” Arceus looked at Mel.

“Pretty disappointing huh.”

Arceus looked over the shrine again. There was no order or pattern in the buttons and string lying around, it was simply a collection of objects. “What- what is it for?”

Mel shrugged. “You ever heard of a perfectly safe mine?”

It took him a second. “Oh.” Arceus felt a pit in his stomach. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Mel seemed unconcerned. “There’s nothing left but a little bitterness.”

Arceus looked away. “So when you tried to kill us...”

“Yeah,” Mel said. “I thought you figured out somehow this was here. It really was a spur of the moment decision.” Mel slowly covered the small shrine with rocks again. “So, was that disappointing enough?”

“I- I don’t think I could be disappointed by that,” Arceus said. “Now I’m just sad.”

“Huh. Oh well, wanna go back now?”

“Alright.” Arceus felt his head spinning. He had felt pretty bad for beating Mel up earlier, but now he felt even worse.


{=} {=}


Arceus and Mel stood awkwardly on a rocky path, illuminated by the moonlight. There was a slight breeze in the air. The sun would rise soon.

“So, I never really asked, but I heard your friend call you Arceus?” Mel idly poked a rock as she spoke.

“That’s me,” Arceus said. “I don’t really know if it means anything.”

“A name doesn’t really need a meaning as far as I know, but if you’re looking I suppose you’ll find one.”

Arceus thought about it for a moment. “I will, you can count on it.”

Mel nodded. “Sorry about everything. Really.”

“I should be the one saying sorry,” Arceus said. “We really did just come out of nowhere, so it’s fair that you would be suspicious of us. I guess that’s something we should watch out for in the future.”

“You’re too considerate.” Mel seemed distant. “Good luck then.”

“I think I’ll need it,” Arceus said.

Arceus walked away as Mel stared off into space.


-----


“Hey Moomoo, what are you up to?”

Mel looked at the ancient Nidoking and made a face. “Nothing really Pasa, just couldn’t sleep.”

Pasa grinned at her. “I’d say that’s fair, since those strangers brought you back up here, all beat up and the like.” He crossed his arms. “ But you’ve never been one to ‘accidentally’ hurt yourself, you know.”

Mel huffed indignantly and was about to speak when Pasa started again.

“You don’t have to tell me. You’re alright now, and that’s all that matters. That does bring up something I wanted to talk to you about.”

“And what is that?” Mel said.

Pasa folded his arms, “You want to go with them don’t you?”

“What?” Mel was taken by surprise.

“It would be good for you to get out of here.” Pasa was serious as he said this.

Mel looked at him curiously. “I’m still going to say what. Say it straight old man.”

“You’re messing with me.”

“Does it matter? Just tell me already.”

Pasa sighed dramatically. “Maybe I’m overthinking things.”

“Overthinking?” Mel asked.

“I thought maybe you were going to finally do something with your life.”

“I am doing something, I’m here.” Mel made a painfully fake smile.

“If you call living bumming around with us old folk, then you’re right” Pasa made a face, “You know I’m not good at this kind of thing, help me out here.”

“I don’t need anything,” Mel retorted. “I’m fine with just being here.”

“No, you’re not, and I shouldn’t need to tell you that you have your whole life ahead of you.” Pasa shook his head. “Don’t you think if you went out of your way to talk to those strangers that it means something?”

Mel looked away. “That’s only because they were here you know. Just curious, you know.”

“You just said you know twice. And you’ve never struck me as the curious type.”

“Shut up Pasa.” Mel looked defeated. “If- if maybe, just maybe, I were to leave, what would you do?”

“What, you think old age means feebleness huh?” Pasa smiled. “I’ll tell you not to worry as many times as you need, we’re all tough here and that’s a fact. Do you think a little business types from the city can scare us?”

Mel sighed. “I just don’t want to forget about everyone.”

“You won’t,” Pasa said simply.

“Where do I go?” Mel looked at the dark sky, tinged a deep purple as the first signs of the sun appeared. The air was stiff and a light chill floated around.

“I don’t know, at least anywhere but here.” Pasa scratched the cracked armor on his chest. “Decide for yourself, that’s what adults do.”

“I guess then I should say bye to everyone,” Mel said.

Pasa raised a claw. “If you do that, you’ll never leave. Go now, everyone understands.”

Mel blinked, rubbing her face with one arm. “You’re just telling me that.”

“If I hug you will you believe me?”

Mel looked around the predawn darkness.

“Come on,” Pasa said. “No one’s watching.”


(。◕‿‿◕。)


In the early morning, the traffic in Aibai wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been before. Arceus and Mallys ducked into an alleyway to rest for a moment and figure out their next move. Piles of empty crates lined the walls of either side, tin cans lying haphazardly in rivulets of water running along tiny canals in the ground. Arceus stood with his backside to a grated window, out of which came plumes of white steam as Mallys watched him.

“This is nice,” Arceus said as the steam slowly rolled over his tail all the way to his head. “You want to try Mallys?”

“No thanks.” Mallys’ voice was still somewhat raspy. His arms were full of more donuts, four this time, he took a bite, speaking through a full mouth. “Are you sure it’s ok to do that?”

“I don’t feel anything, so it’s probably good.” Arceus stepped out of the steam. “Oh, cold.”

Mallys idly held a donut up to his face, looking at Arceus through the hole in the center. “You’re uh- how do they say it, spontaneous, no?”

A bit of condensation had somehow formed on Arceus’ rings, he didn’t seem to notice. “I want to try a donut,” Arceus said. “Maybe I don’t have a mouth, but you could try pushing it into my face, I might absorb it or something.”

Mallys tilted his head. “You really want me to do that?”

Arceus nodded, standing tall in front of Mallys. Hesitating for a moment, Mallys slowly took one of his donuts, pressing it into Arceus’ face.


ლ(´ڡ`ლ)


Mel moved gracefully across the rooftops. She tried to scan the crowd but could barely focus on the multitude of shapes and colors.

“How am I gonna find them in a crowd like this?” Mel said to herself. She settled down on a slanted rooftop, drawing a few curious looks from the crowd below. For a moment she sat still.

“I can do this. I just have to look for big ugly golden rings.” Chastising herself, she rose again and bounded to another roof with renewed energy. Her confidence paid off, as she jumped from one roof to another, she saw a flash of gold in the daylight and an unmistakable shape. Smiling to herself, she poked her head over the edge of the roof and immediately stopped. For a few seconds she wasn’t sure what was going on. In the alley below, the Haxorus was rubbing a large donut across Arceus’ face. The ground was littered with crumbs, and three more donuts, one of them half eaten lay on an overturned crate.

“Do you taste it yet?” Mallys asked Arceus.

“Not yet, keep trying,” Arceus said.

“What are you guys doing?” Mel asked. Mallys turned to look up too quickly and the rest of the donut fell to the ground.

“Huh? Is that you Mel?” Arceus looked around in confusion. “I can’t see you, I have glaze in my eyes.”

Mallys looked between Mel and the donut on the ground as Arceus wiped his eyes with a hoof, “You made me drop it,” he sighed. “That sucks.”

“Oh, sorry.” Mel made an effort to sound apologetic, but failed to hide a small grin. “I just had to ask, you can’t really blame me.”

“Personally I can,” Mallys said. Mel rolled her eyes.

“There we go.” Arceus looked up at Mel, a few lingering crumbs still on his face. “What are you doing up there?”

“I was looking for you guys,” Mel said. “What were you doing?”

“I was trying to eat a donut; Mallys was helping me,” Arceus replied.

“Trying?” Mel pondered this for a moment. “You don’t have a mouth, where’s the ‘try’ part?”

Arceus shook his head. “Didn’t really work out I guess,” he said. “Why were you looking for us?”

Mel jumped from the roof, landing in front of the two. “I’m gonna follow you guys,” she loudly announced.

Arceus’ eyes widened in surprise while Mallys merely frowned. “Follow us?” Arceus said. “Why?”

Mel thought about Pasa. “I want to experience the world.” Mel looked at Arceus. “I want to go places like you said you were doing.”

“That makes a lot of sense,” Mallys said dryly. “Hang around with the pokemon you tried to kill.”

“Don’t be like that Mallys,” Arceus said. “Mel is ok, we talked about it yesterday, but you weren’t there.”

Mallys shrugged. “If you say so.”

“So will you let me hang out with you?” Mel asked hopefully.

“Sure.” Arceus looked at the donuts. “It’s not like this is some super important quest, we’re just going places.”

“Yes!” Mel shouted happily, surprising the two. “Uh, why don’t we put the past behind us and try this again. I’m Mel, nice to meet you.”

Arceus stared at Mel for a moment. “I’m Arceus, nice to meet you.”

Mallys said nothing, merely looking at Mel.
 

Negrek

Spindrift
Staff
I was a bit confused at the beginning, when we cut to Arceus and Mallys hanging out outside when the last we'd seen of them was Mallys unconscious on the ground and Arceus dispatching of Mel. I guess with her out of commission there wasn't anything to prevent Arceus from dragging Mallys back outside, but it did disorient me for a moment.

“Sorry, you know,” Mel shifted from side to side as she spoke. “I uh, I misjudged you.”
I'm guessing "Sorry, you know, I, uh, I misjudged you" is meant to be spoken all as on sentence of dialogue. If that's the case, there should be a comma after "spoke" instead of a period, as the dialogue is going to continue on afterwards.

“Not really, I don’t need anything,” Arceus replied.
Except your memories back! Geez, Arceus!

I'm kind of surprised Mallys let Arceus wander off with Mel without any sort of fuss. Sure, she apologized and offered to take Arceus to the shrine, but she'd also been acting friendly earlier, when she was all along leading them into a trap!

Mel had to catch her breath for a moment, “That’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. Actually, it is.” She took a deep breath. “-but you’re really into it.”
Someone finally said it, lol. I wasn't totally sure whether Mallys' suggestion was supposed to be really out there or not, given that most people kind of seemed to accept it in stride.

“If you call living bumming around with us old folk, then you’re right” Pasa made a face, “You know I’m not good at this kind of thing, help me out here.”
Here I think you actually mean for the two pieces of dialogue ("If you call living..." and "You know I'm not good...") to be their own distinct sentences. If that's the case, you want a comma after "right" in the first piece of dialogue and then a period after "face." Using a comma there suggests that the dialogue is one long sentence that continues to either side of the narration, which I don't think is what you're going for.

“How am I gonna find them in a crowd like this?” Mel said to herself.
I was going to say, those two tend to stand out in a crowd because they're always up to something weird. I was delighted that she ended up coming upon Arceus and Mallys while Mallys was trying to help Arceus taste the donuts--great moment. I also love Mallys trying to help Arceus taste the donuts because tbh I had been dying to know if it was possible for him to eat something despite having no mouth. "Just smash it into my face and let's see if I can taste anything" seems like the most logical approach, but also

I was pretty sure Mel was going to end up joining with the other two from the point where Arceus was walking back into the cave with her and she got a little more spotlight. It'll be interesting to see how she fits into the traveling party--she seems a bit more outspoken and energetic than the other two, which should provide an interesting balance. Plus Mallys clearly doesn't care for her, heh. At this point we know why Arceus and Mel are journeying, but not Mallys... Definitely interested in finding out what his deal is, eventually.

Not too much to say about this chapter; it was mostly about wrapping up the mine section and adding Mel to the cast. The donut bit at the end was great, and presumably the next chapter is going to introduce some new place. Looking forward to it!
 

Raggy

(。◕‿‿◕。)
Location
East
Thanks again Negrek, I'll have to go back through at some point.
In the meantime, I guess another post is all I have.

This post is sponsored by made up facts.


Chapter 5 - What things do or don't


For the next few days the newly formed trio wandered the countryside, trying to figure out where to go next. It was slow going, Arceus insisted on exploring anything mildly interesting on principle and as a result there was much disappointment to be had but nothing that really stood out. Luckily this constant stream of distractions seemed to distract him from the dirty looks Mel and Mallys would frequently exchange. They had settled for the night on a ridge shaded by trees. The treeline ahead was starting to thin, and the vegetation had already started to look less lively with an ashen green hue. Arceus had somehow fallen asleep on his side, he lay on two large logs, using the space between to fit his ring. Mel and Mallys sat apart from each other, watching each other carefully.

“Alright, this is what- the fifth night we’ve done this?” Mel sounded tired. “This has to stop.”

“I could continue, but if that’s what you want,” Mallys said.

Mel made a noise of frustration. “I called Arceus weird before, but you’re so much worse.”

“No one’s ever complimented me like that before.” Mallys looked away in mock bashfulness.

“It’s not a compliment- ugh, you suck.” Mel buried her face in her scythes. “Why are you like this?”

“Because I don’t trust you? Isn’t that more than obvious by now?”

Mel rolled her eyes. “I get that much, but that’s exactly it. Like, a few days ago with the water.”

Mallys nodded. “Yes, you tried to drown me. What about it?”

“It’s just that- well.” Mel spoke regretfully. “Wouldn’t any pokemon normally be more concerned about that?”

“I was concerned,” Mallys replied. “I just didn’t think it was necessary to say so at the time.”

“So you kept going?” Mel was confused. “But what about...” She gestured at his throat.

Mallys shrugged. “I’ll admit that was my mistake. I assumed that since you had failed once, you wouldn’t try again.” His eyes narrowed, “A mistake I will not repeat,” he said coldly.

Mel looked at him silently for a few seconds. “Then can we both just consider the whole thing a big mistake?”

“You didn’t think it was a mistake before now?” Mallys asked.

“Yes, it’s-” Mel shouted before freezing up. She looked over at Arceus’ sleeping form before starting again in a lower voice. “Yes, it’s my fault, are you going to keep doing this?”

“I’m just concerned about someone so violent following Arceus around.” Mallys looked at Arceus as he spoke.

Mel looked away. “I messed up I know...” She trailed off before grimacing. “Does that mean the reason you didn’t mention the water was because of him?”

There was a flicker of something in Mallys’ expression, “Now you’re thinking”. The Haxorus seemed less tense. “I don’t really care too much about myself, but I’d rather make sure Arceus is ok. I would have settled this a long time ago otherwise.”

Mel wasn’t sure how to respond. She remained silent.

“Common ground then,” Mallys said. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be following us. That’s what I think.”

“I-” Mel could hardly express herself. Arceus had rolled onto his back.

“Why don’t we agree to disagree then?” Mallys spoke matter-of-factly. “I’m sure we both have our own reasons for being here, but let’s focus on what’s important.”

Mel felt the tension leave her body as they both glanced at Arceus. “Ok.” She felt a sudden burst of confidence. “I- I don’t want to dislike you Mallys, I really don’t.”

Mallys was unmoved. “Do what you will, as long as we can agree on this one thing I don’t care. In fact-” He stared at Mel with a strange look in his eyes. “If it doesn’t work out for you, and you still feel bitter, then try again. Get rid of me if you want, I only have two conditions.”

“What?” Mel couldn’t comprehend what he was saying. The tension came right back. “What do you mean?”

“For one, make sure Arceus doesn’t see.” The Haxorus ignored Mel’s words, a wild gleam in his eye. “-and second, take care of him like you would your own family.”

Mel was indignant. “What are you talking about Mallys? Why would I do that?”

Mallys shrugged. “That’s a lot of questions. Let me put it this way, if you did, you would be doing a lot of pokemon a big favor.” Mallys looked away. “Keep it in mind, but let’s stick to what we know for now,” he said.

As suddenly as it arrived, the energy in the air disappeared. Mel felt drained as she looked at Mallys, not sure what to think about the dragon anymore.

“I suppose it goes without saying that I’m watching you,” Mallys said. “Still though, it’s not like I can distrust you forever. We’ll figure it out later.”

Mallys abruptly turned away, lying on his side. Mel was frozen in place, still processing what happened. She released a breath she had been holding for a long time.


\ (•◡•) /


Massive cracks splintered across the rocky ground. Black liquid leaked out of holes in the ground, occasionally erupting and leaving a slick surface. A foul smell lingered in the air as the sun blazed overhead, baking the group. Arceus was relatively fine, his pure white coloring reflected most of the sun in comparison to Mallys, who despite maintaining a stoic facade was clearly uncomfortable. Mel felt partly invigorated by the sun, natural for a Lurantis, but was put off by the viscous black liquid that frequently ran in steams over the road. Stepping over these puddles was a conscious effort on the part of all three.

“Where are we going today?” Arceus asked.

“It’s called the Sankuanz Geyser,” Mallys replied. “It’s a natural spout of, whatever this stuff is.”

“Is it well known?” Mel experimentally poked the stuff, retracting her scythe just as fast. “Aw, this is disgusting.” She waved a claw to no avail, the black substance slowly sliding off her.

“World famous, at least that’s what I heard,” Mallys said. “Anyway, it should be near here.”

Down the road, the conditions were worse. The red plains surged with scattered flames. Small fires leapt and bit at each other, occasionally swallowing puddles of the black fluid to become ferocious blazes. Off in the distance, a massive wall of fire could be seen, roaring up and down the cracked plains.

Mel was visibly shocked by the distant inferno. Mallys stared at it in disbelief.

“That’s amazing,” Arceus exclaimed. “Good thing it’s over there.”

“For now at least.” Mallys glanced uneasily at the pools of liquid.

“I don’t want to think about that,” Arceus said. As they continued, the sky became overcast, thick clouds blocking out the sun. They hung low enough that the massive fire almost touched the bottoms as the fire and the clouds tumbled against each other.

“You don’t look so good Mallys,” Arceus noted with concern.

“I’m fine,” Mallys said, idly rubbing his beak. “Don’t worry about it.” He waved Arceus off, squinting into the distance.

A large, squat pokemon was bounding across the dusty plain towards them. It had rough grey brown skin with stubby flat rounded feet. A collection of holes ran along it’s back and on it’s nose a few of which were full of sand.

“What are you all doing out here?” the Hippowdon yelled. Coming up to them, he stopped to catch his breath before glaring at them. “I hope I don’t have to remind you that the rain is coming.”

“Rain would be kind of nice,” Arceus said quietly.

The Hippowdon looked shocked. “I’m sorry, do you even know where you are?”

“Not really.” Arceus shook his head.

“So uh, you’re a bunch of drifters?” The Hippowdon shook his head. “Please say you’re kidding.”

“Actually, we are kind of tourists,” Arceus replied. “We wanted to see the, uh, the San-something geyser.”

“That’s even better, stupid tourists,” the Hippowdon said in a slightly drawn out tone. “That thing is hardly worth looking at.” As he said this, the skies opened giving way to a light drizzle.

Mallys looked at the fire in the distance. “You’d think this would be a good thing.”

“The key word in that is ‘think’, and if you think that, you’re wrong” the Hippowdon said simply.

“I can accept that,” Mallys said.

“Just get out of here,” the Hippowdon said with a pained expression.

------

Despite the apparent urgency, it was slow going following the Hippowdon through the rain. Mallys offered more than once to carry him, after some time he had starting sounding desperate. The rainwater had begun to pool on the ground in spots, strangely it seemed to move all around the black liquid, but did not mix with it.

Mel, protected by her eye shields, looked straight up into the sky. “If this is such a bad thing, why are you out here if you’re so smart?”

“I know how to be careful, unlike you all,” the Hippowdon said. “See, I know where I’m going.”

In front of them was a tall building made of stacked rings of red stone. It was suspended in the air on a series of poles, a large one in the center, and several smaller poles ringing the edge. The facade was dotted irregularly with holes, and an assortment of tubes ran across sections. Resting on top of the structure was a large glass sphere. It was hard to tell from the ground, but the sphere was constantly spinning in place. A set of zig-zagging stairs led up to a low wide entrance with a sign overhead bearing a logo of an arrangement of interlocking circles

Arceus didn’t have very long to take it in, the Hippowdon hurried them up the staircase as the rain poured down. It fell in dense waves now, and a low roar of thunder could be heard in the distance.

There was a cold breeze blowing in the chamber they entered. Arceus shivered slightly, hoping the water would dry quickly. Looking over, he felt slightly guilty, Mel and Mallys looked miserable in comparison, while the Hippowdon seemed unaffected.

“Are you guys ok?” Arceus asked.

Mallys glanced at Mel, then back to Arceus, “I think I speak for both of us when I say we find the cold particularly uncomfortable.”

Mel nodded in confirmation but said nothing, grimacing.

“Just get over it,” the Hippowdon said, shaking his head. “I’m hardly partial to it myself but you don’t hear me complaining.” He walked off as he said this, leaving the group standing in the airy room, the sound of falling rain growing stronger.

“Wait, what do we do now?” Arceus said, looking around in confusion.

“Dry off,” Mallys said.

[][]-----[]

Sitting in the entrance, they watched the rain. Distant voices echoed from somewhere, but there was otherwise a quiet punctuated by the occasional crack of thunder.

“I’ve never seen this much water before,” Mel said. As far as one could see, the rain soaked the red plains. Though most of the smaller fires around had gone out, the blaze in the distance was still going strong, columns of steam mixing with the clouds.

“You’ve never seen the ocean?” Mallys asked.

“The mountain was my entire life, so not really.”

Mallys made a face. “It really must of been if you think that’s the only mountain in the world.”

“I only called it that because- I mean I know there’s other mountains, it’s just that....” Mel trailed off in frustration.

“Well, I haven’t seen the ocean either,” Arceus said helpfully.

“You don’t know that,” Mallys said.
“I- I don’t.” Arceus face fell.

“He’s still right though.” Mel gave Mallys a pointed look. “It doesn’t matter if he saw it before, only if he saw it now.”

Mallys shrugged. “I’m sure if this keeps up, he’ll see a lot of oceans.” The Haxorus paused with an unreadable expression. “-and mountains.”

Mel shook her head in exasperation as Arceus looked between them. “Don’t be like that Mallys,” he said.

“Sorry Arceus, it’s just playing.” Mallys grinned at Mel as he said this.

Mel shuddered at the fake levity. “Yea,” she said. “It’s uh, really nothing.”

Arceus looked between them suspiciously. “Oh, ok,” Arceus he said eventually.

They sat quietly for a while before Arceus spoke again.

“Uh, what does the ocean look like anyway?”

“It’s blue,” Mallys said. “Just blue as far as you can see. I really don’t know how to describe it other than that.” He was silent for a moment. “-and uh, there is more than one ocean too, if you didn’t hear me earlier.”

“That’s my fault,” Arceus said, turning to Mel. “Mel, do you think every ocean is blue?”

“Maybe?” Mel said. “But that would be kind of boring, you think?”

“Huh, well we won’t know until we see it.” Arceus suddenly whipped around to Mallys, giving the Haxorus an intense stare. “Don’t tell us either Mallys.”

“If that’s what you want,” Mallys said, faking disappointment. “I won’t tell.” He paused for a moment, looking thoughtful. “Although, if you’re talking like that, it sounds like we’re in this for the long run.”

Arceus nodded. “I was confident earlier, but I was thinking about it, and I’m definitely prepared for the possibility of not getting anything done soon. But uh, I’m not making you come, you can go home whenever.”

“No, it’s not that,” Mallys said, shaking his head. “Just wanted to clarify.”

Arceus stared at the floor for a moment, looking distant. “Why are you guys still with me anyway?”

“You’re asking?” Mallys sounded subdued, looking away.

“Yea, why?” Arceus nodded. “You said before that it was fine if you left for a few days, but you’re still here and it’s been a few few days.”

Mallys was caught off guard. “A few- few?” he asked in confusion.

Mel nudged Arceus. “You can’t say you have a few of a few, it makes no sense.” She leaned closer whispering apologetically. “It makes sense to me.”

“Oh! Sorry.” Arceus shook his head. “I meant you’ve been with me a couple of few days now.”

“Yes, yes I have been.” Mallys was impassive. He shot a disapproving glance at Mel who was trying with little success to contain her laughter.

“So?” Arceus continued. “Why are you still here? I mean, not that it’s a bad thing.”

Mallys was silent for a moment. “I said before that I lived in that little temple for thirty or so odd years you know. Never really seen much myself, so I guess I’m just looking for something to do. You know?”

“I guess I do know,” Arceus said matter-of-factly before turning to Mel. “What about you Mel?”

The Lurantis shrugged. “I want to see the world. Not entirely my own idea, but I’m liking it so far.”

There was a moment while Arceus thought about what both Mallys and Mel said. “You guys are really nice.” He paused. “We’ll figure this all out. I’ll go find someone to help!” He abruptly moved and disappeared through a hall, leaving Mel and Mallys sitting in silence.

“Did we mess up?” Mallys stared straight forward saying this.

Mel shook her head looking at him. “I think that’s just him being weird. On that subject though, I’m in the clear, I was being up-front.” She narrowed her eyes. “-in comparison.”

“Caught that didn’t you?” Mallys said idly. “I don’t have any answers for you though.”

She rolled her eyes. “If anything, it’s more surprising Arceus didn’t catch that. But I don’t really think you’re gonna tell the truth either way, so I’ll leave it at that.”

Mallys made a face. “Mmmm, that’s a good call.”

“You’re the one who said you can’t distrust me forever. It won’t really mean anything if I can’t trust you.”

“I can work with that.”

“Shut up!” Mel said angrily. “Are we just going to pretend like this is ok? He’ll notice eventually.”

Mallys frowned. “I- well- you think?”

“Yea” Mel said. “He’s a bit out there, but he’s not dumb.”

“What do you say we do then?” Mallys asked.

Mel said nothing for a moment. “I don’t think either of us can solve anything right now...” She trailed off. “Let’s go on your idea, just help Arceus, and if we can’t agree-” Mel gestured in the air. “Then we’ll just say ‘Agree to Disagree’.”

“Agree to disagree?”

“Just like that.” Mel nodded, satisfied. “-and we’ll just forget about it.”

“That sounds like a terrible idea,” Mallys said.

“Right back at ya then, what do you suggest?”

They sat there for a while. Then a while longer. The rain was falling, the fire was burning, it was kind of a bad day.

“Agree to disagree.” Mallys voice was low and strained.

“Agree to disagree,” Mel replied. They said nothing else.


(>人<)


“What’s your name?”

“Can you tell me first? I’m not good with strangers.”

Arceus looked at the chunk of ice curiously. “I’m Arceus.”

“How do you spell that?”

“I uh-” Arceus thought for a moment. “I don’t know.”

“I heard that if you can’t spell your own name, it’s not your name at all.” The miniature glacier spoke shyly, giving Arceus a reserved glance.

“It’s really my name!” Arceus said. “How can I convince you?”

The tiny iceberg thought about it. “You could try to spell your name?”

This was a tough one. For a while, Arceus stood in place making sounds while the little ice block watched.

After a moment of thinking, he hesitantly started. “A-r-s-e-o-u-s.” There was something strangely gratifying about spelling out his own name, and as Arceus watched, it seemed to satisfy the small cold stone.

“Oh! You’re Arceus then,” it said happily. “I’m Toconoma, and I know how to spell that.”

“Alright Toconoma,” Arceus said. “Uh, sorry, but what are you?”

“What am I?” Toconoma looked confused. “What do you mean?”

“What kind of-” Arceus cut off for a moment, thinking of the right words to say. “What kind of pokemon are you?”

“Me? I’m a berger.” Toconoma was still for a moment. “Wait, I meant Bergmite.”

Arceus wouldn’t have known better either way, but nodded nonetheless. “I see. Anyway, this might sound strange, but what is this place?”

Toconoma’s eyes widened. “You don’t know?” He sounded excited, looking around as if to see if they were being watched.

Arceus looked away embarrassed. “I know, I probably should know, sorry.”

“No no no, it’s not bad, not that bad. Actually, you’re the first pokemon I can tell about this place. It’s kind of exciting.”

“Oh, r-really?” Arceus was surprised.

“Yeah! This is the FRDC, or Fluid Research and Development Center. It’s a bit plain, but we’re one of a kind.”

“In the world?”

“I wish,” Toconoma said with a hint of sadness. “Anyway, this facility was created to study the dynamics of oil and it’s vector reactions.”

“Oil?”

“That uhm, black liquid that’s outside. I hope I’m not assuming too much.”

Arceus tilted his head to one side. “I get it, I think. So that’s oil? What kind of liquid is it?”

“You might not know this, but the oil is why there’s fires everywhere” Toconoma had a surprising air of authority for his size, “Not only is it flammable, but it’s proprietary tension value is in excess of seventeen! It has the highest recorded internal movement resonance, and theoretically it is a near perfect replacement for water.”

Arceus blinked. “I didn’t know a liquid could be that much. I guess if it could replace water, you can drink it right?”

“I don’t know,” Toconoma said. “It’s theoretical after all, we might have some around here if you want to though.”

“I wish I could,” Arceus said. “Anyway, we were brought here by a uh, a pokemon with a big nose.”

Toconoma lit up. “You met Bolero? He knows even more about oil than I do, he’s really smart. He taught me all about oil.”

“Well, thinking about it now, he did seem like the type that would be in the know about a lot of things,” Arceus said. “-about oil,” he added somewhat hastily.

“Who knows, maybe even more than that,” Toconoma said happily. “Oh oh, if you’re a visitor, then I gotta take you to the Administrator. She runs this place.”

“I’ll go with you, but I have to get my friends first,” Arceus said.

“There’s other pokemon?” Toconoma looked thoughtful. “I hope I can tell them about oil too.”

Arceus hesitated. “I don’t know. Maybe.”
 

Negrek

Spindrift
Staff
All right, new chapter! Let's take a look.

Arceus had somehow fallen asleep on his side, he lay on two large logs, using the space between to fit his ring.
Here's a comma splice. Because "Arceus had somehow fallen asleep on his side" and "He lay on two large logs" are both complete sentences, you want a period after "side" rather than a comma.

There was a flicker of something in Mallys’ expression, “Now you’re thinking”.
Your dialogue punctuation is looking really good in this chapter for the most part, but this one sneaked through. Period should be inside the quotation mark, and since "There was a flicker of something in Mallys' expression" doesn't have anything to do with what he actually says, there should be a period after "expression."

Arceus had rolled onto his back.
How did he even manage that, lol.

“That’s a lot of questions. Let me put it this way, if you did, you would be doing a lot of pokemon a big favor.”
TRAGIC PAST TRAGIC PAST. My instinct is to guess that Mallys has some kind of criminal history, but this is a story with a lot of unexpected elements, so I won't be surprised if it turns out it's something far less common than that.

A collection of holes ran along it’s back and on it’s nose a few of which were full of sand.
Both the "it's" here should be "its." Also a comma after "nose."

Arceus didn’t have very long to take it in, the Hippowdon hurried them up the staircase as the rain poured down.
Another comma splice. Should be a period after "in" instead of a comma.

Looking over, he felt slightly guilty, Mel and Mallys looked miserable in comparison, while the Hippowdon seemed unaffected.
And here, period after "guilty" instead of a comma.

“It really must of been if you think that’s the only mountain in the world.”
It sounds like "must of" when people say it out loud, but it actually should be "must have." Just how it's pronounced.

Mel shook her head looking at him.
And here, you do want a comma after "head!"

“Agree to disagree.” Mallys voice was low and strained.
Should be *Mallys', with an apostrophe

“A-r-s-e-o-u-s.”
Oh dear, now he's really condemned to be arse-eus forever, isn't he?

It's great to see how Mel's already changing the dynamic of the group and putting a bit more pressure on Mallys--Arceus is simply too oblivious to have realized the implications of a lot of what Mallys has said, but Mel isn't the type to just let things slide! I'm definitely interested in seeing what's up with Mallys, and it's good to see character progression in that direction, too; a story structured like this runs the risk of kind of meandering all over the place but never actually going anywhere, so it's important to have indictors of progression like this. Incidentally, I'm also really curious to see whether we'll ever run into anybody who actually recognizes Arceus for what he is--I mean, presumably there must be people out there who know him, right?

This chapter was also a nice reminder of how neat your setting is. I don't think I've ever seen a pokémon story visit a petroleum field like this... I don't even know to what extent this kind of geological feature exists in the real world! It adds to that real alternate-world vibe that this story has. And then the bergmite going on about vectors and tension and flammability and so on--also way more science-y than you usually see in a pokémon society! I also like how apparently the idea that pokémon can drink oil is still purely theoretical, even though it would obviously be trivial to test--not that it would exactly be a very wise experiment, probably!

Kind of a short-feeling transitional chapter here, but I think it did a nice job of setting up for future chapters, and it's introduced another interesting place for us to explore along with Arceus. Onwards!
 

Raggy

(。◕‿‿◕。)
Location
East
Local bum writes too many words about talking.
Thanks again for putting up with this time and time again Negrek! I don't think anyone's ever talked to me this long about something I wrote before, lol.


Chapter 6 > Obvious paradigms


“Sorry” Mallys said. “You’ll have to repeat that one. I- I don’t think I heard you right.” The Haxorus looked at Toconoma apologetically. “Mel probably didn’t hear either, right Mel?”

“I don’t know,” Mel said noncommittally. “I stopped listening around the curve part or something.”

“You mean the vertical mobility curve?” Arceus said. Mel gave him a strange look.

“Oh come on.” Mallys shook his head in frustration. “At least have the decency to lie.”

“I really don’t mind,” Toconoma said from somewhere behind the Haxorus. “Most pokemon don’t even say anything when they ignore me.”

There was an awkward silence for a moment before Toconoma, who didn’t seem bothered at all, started talking about oil again. Arceus listened with rapt attention while Mallys and Mel exchanged glances.

“I feel bad now,” Mel whispered to Mallys.

“You should, you really blew it” Mallys replied. “Just- just don’t be so weird next time.”

“You think I’m weird? You??” Mel looked down for a moment before shaking her head. “I won’t, I mean, I’ll try not to be weird ok?”

Mallys smiled. “That’s good.”

[]

“So basically, you’re like an expert in oil now?” Mel looked at Arceus curiously.

“Not at all. But Toconoma unofficially appointed me as an intermediate researcher.” Arceus seemed more confused than anything, but he tried to sound confident.

“Tell me an oil fact,” Mel said rather abruptly. “Like, something really cool.”

Arceus was taken aback. “Cool? I er, well, uh...” He thought for a moment. “Oil was invented two thousand years ago by nomadic tribes of Houndoom as a means of faster travel.”

Mel nodded, not understanding. “How exactly did they do that?”

“Uh, I don’t know what a Houndoom looks like.” Arceus gave Toconoma a pointed look.

“Houndoom run on four legs like you and me,” Toconoma said looking at Arceus. “I forget exactly what they look like too, but they used the oil to skate along the ground really fast.”

Mel shrugged. “I still don’t really follow, but that sounds about right.”

“Oh, oh!” Toconoma sounded excited. “You’re a dragon right?” He looked at Mallys. “Were you alive to see that?”

Mallys huffed indignantly. “I’m hardly over two hundred, that’s a long way off.”

“Sorry, sorry. But aren’t there dragons that live that long?” Toconoma sounded hopeful.

“I don’t... I wouldn’t know,” Mallys said.

“Oh... That sucks,” Toconoma said. He looked upset for a moment before suddenly perking up. “Maybe one day I can find out and tell you!”

“That’s very nice of you Toconoma. I look forward to it.” The Haxorus made a small smile.

“I won’t disappoint you Mr. Mallys.”

----------

Toconoma led them through a series of corridors to a central room. The cold air had been steadily intensifying, and now it was apparent why. A humongous hunk of ice moved about the room, making everything around it seem just a little more blue. The Avalugg didn’t seem to notice the group as they entered, or maybe it just didn’t care.

“Hey M-” Toconoma seemed to catch himself. “Administrator, heey, heeey.”

The Administrator looked at Toconoma for a moment, then at Arceus and company. “Did you forget where the main desk was again?”

“Not at all!” Toconoma said. “These are my new fellow researchers, and uh friends too.”

“Really?” the Administrator seemed duly surprised. “That’s very nice, thank you for letting me know.”

Toconoma turned to face Arceus. “All done. Let’s go!”

“Huh?” Arceus blinked. “What?”

Before anyone else could say anything, Toconoma ushered them to an adjacent hallway. Mel and Mallys were exchanging confused glances while Arceus repeatedly looked back at the Administrator through the doorway.

“Is an introduction supposed to last longer, or was I lied to?” Mel asked.

“Generally yes,” Mallys said.

Toconoma looked at the Haxorus in surprise. “Wow, I didn’t know that either.”

Mallys glanced at Toconoma disapprovingly. “Is that a joke?”

“No- no,” Toconoma said, sounding panicked. “I didn’t mean to- sorry, really sorry.”

“You- you didn’t know?” Mallys was confused.

Toconoma mumbled an incoherent jumble of sounds before collecting himself. “My mother told me introductions need to be short or you’re just wasting time. M-maybe yours are just different?”

“I don’t think so,” Mallys said, scratching the back of his head. “That sounds like an exception to the rule.”

Toconoma shifted uncomfortably back and forth. “It was ok back there when we talked with her though...” He trailed off.

“Wait-” Mel cut in, her eyes wide. “The Administrator is your mom?”

“Yea, you saw that right?” Toconoma said sheepishly. “I almost called her mom while she was working, and that’s like the biggest thing I’m not supposed to do. Honestly, I’m kind of embarrassed.”

“I feel you there,” Mel said.

“Embarrassed for what though?” Mallys said. “I’m not sure what anyone could expect out of a kid?”

Toconoma huffed. He seemed to be trying to puff himself up. “I’m not a kid, I’m a professional.” The Bergmite stopped, looking at the ground, his expression falling. “Actually, I suppose I am kind of a kid, it- it’s not good to lie.”

“I guess not,” Mallys said quietly.

Mel looked at Mallys strangely for a moment before looking back to Toconoma. “Is your mom, uh, the Administrator, a researcher too?”

“Not really,” he said, his sadness forgotten. “She’s just an administrator.”

“Administrator of what?” Mel asked.

“The hotel.” Toconoma paused. “Uh, research doesn’t really make any money so this place is kind of a tourist resort too.”

“Seems like the opposite of a conducive environment,” Mallys said dryly.

“I don’t know what that means, but you’re probably right,” Toconoma replied.

Mel nudged the Bergmite, shooting him a small smile. “Don’t let him get you down, I don’t know what it means either.”

“Anyway, when can we see the geyser?” Arceus shifted from side to side.

“The geyser?” Toconoma made a face, “But that’s boring. If you really want to see it though, you have to wait”.

“Wait? For what?” Arceus looked around as if expecting the answer to be nearby.

“If I had to guess-” Mallys’ interjected. “It’s the rain, isn’t it?”

“That’s right,” Toconoma said, moving up and down in a rough approximation of a nod. “It won’t stop for another day or so, and then it has to drain for a day.”

“But...” Mallys rubbed a claw along the bridge of his beak. “That doesn’t make sense. Where does all the water come from? How does that fire continue to burn?”

“I know oil, not water,” Toconoma replied with an air of indifference. “It’s just what happens.”

Mallys sighed. “Whatever. We’ll wait. You’re lucky we’re not on a schedule.”

“Hey!” Mel cut in angrily. “It’s not his fault. He can’t control the weather.” She paused for a moment before looking uncertainly at Toconoma. “You can’t do that right?”

“I wish I could control the weather,” Toconoma pouted.

“That doesn’t matter,” Mallys replied. “I’m simply expressing my disappointment.”

“Do it some other way then.” Mel waved her scythes in exasperation. “Toconoma, can you show me where I can eat something? I’m uh- I need to eat.”

Nodding happily, Toconoma led Mel away, leaving Arceus and Mallys standing in silence.

“You guys shouldn’t argue so much,” Arceus said simply.

Mallys shook his head, smiling ruefully. “We haven’t argued that much, you’re just worrying.”

“Oh.” Arceus thought for a moment. “But if I’m worrying, wouldn’t that mean something’s still wrong?”

“Not really, but thanks for thinking of us. Mel and I have something worked out, we’re just getting used to it.”

Arceus looked at him suspiciously, but his gaze faltered after a moment. “Alright, that’s good,” he said.

“I suppose we’re stuck here for the time being,” Mallys said. “This is partially my fault for not actually reading into where we are going.”

Arceus didn’t feel particularly bothered. “It’s not that bad, the geyser won’t go anywhere,” he said.

“It’s not that so much that as it is just wasting time. You still don’t remember anything, what if we wait too long and you forget that you were even trying to remember?” Mallys was almost comically serious.

“I- wait.” Arceus had to process Mallys’ question. “Can that happen?”

Mallys shrugged. “You want to find out?”

Arceus felt a chill run down his back.


&%&%&%&%&%&%&%&%&%


Mel didn’t feel hungry anymore. As she glanced over the collection of fruits again, Toconoma seemed frantic.

“Do you not eat berries? I just thought that- you looked kind of green- I mean, I...” He looked at the floor.

“I eat berries. I’m just not as hungry as I thought I was,” Mel said blankly. She felt melancholic, but she didn’t know why.

Toconoma perked up. “Oh, I get that. Sometimes I think I want something, but then I don’t really want it, or I forget I wanted it.”

Mel nodded, not really listening. “Yeah. I’ll eat it eventually, you don’t need to hang around for me.”

“Are you sure?”

“I just need a bit of time, just come by later.”

Toconoma looked at the Lurantis. “Ok, see you!” He scurried away.

Mel watched him leave, then back at the assortment in front of her. She made a face.

“Are you going to eat that?” A voice came from beside her. Mel looked over to see a Combusken looking at her curiously.

“I uh, what?” she said.

The Combusken gestured to her food. “That stuff, are you going to eat it?”

Mel looked over the food for a moment. “No,” she said after a second.

“Then can I have it?” The Combusken seemed overly eager, eyes flitting between her and the food.

“I guess.” Mel sat in thought as the chicken devoured the food. “Do you like lying?”

The Combusken stopped and looked at her strangely. “I heard that liars get invariably smited, but that hasn’t happened yet. Although I don’t think I’ve ever considered if I like lying. What do you mean?”

Mel wavered for a moment. “Well, I have this friend, actually kind of more of a friend of a friend, like, I don’t dislike them, you know?”

“How long have you known this friend?” the Combusken asked.

“Not even that long, only a week or so,” Mel idly made circles in the air with one scythe. “But I’m not sure of the direction we’re going, I feel like I’m doing something wrong.”

For a moment there was silence before the chicken spoke again. “Maybe you are if you’re telling all this to a stranger.”

Mel blinked, suddenly becoming aware of what she was doing. “Whu- I- Ghh...” She turned away for a moment. “Oh, I’m really sorry, really really, I can’t- I’m so-”

“It’s all past us now,” the Combusken replied, grinning at her. “I can’t blame you, it was obviously something you had to let out; of course, also the fact that you let such a delicious snack go.”

“Haa...” Mel let out a sigh with a sheepish expression. “Sorry, the whole day just kind of caught up to me. I’m Mel by the way.”

“It’s wonderful to meet you Mel, I am-” He stopped. “You can call me G, but I can’t tell you my real name.”

“Oh, alright.” Mel was slightly intrigued, but tried not to show it.

“That being said...” G continued, “I don’t really know if there’s something to be said about meeting someone else like this, but it was nice.”

“Thanks for listening I guess” Mel said, smiling slightly. “I hope I didn’t mess up your day.”

“Not in the slightest,” G said. “Uh, as for your problem, it sounds like you’re having a rough period. I think that it will get better though!”

“Do you think so?” Mel sounded hopeful. “You’re probably right.”

“I don’t know about that, just my opinion really.” G waved a claw, speaking through a mouthful of food. “You don’t seem like someone who would get in a bad relationship anyway.”

“That’s right,” Mel said, looking off into space.


\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/


“Since you’re not guests at the hotel, we can’t get you guys a room, but this is just as good!” Toconoma sounded proud.

Mallys looked around, not particularly impressed. “This is a storage closet.”

“Only if you think it is,” Arceus said playfully from behind him.

They had come into a room of middling size, filled with different sized boxes. Miscellaneous junk was piled on the floor and against the walls, and there was a damp smell in the air.

“This is the best part.” Toconoma slowly climbed up box after box as he spoke until he was on top of a particularly large one, “These boxes are mostly empty, so if you open one, which I can’t do, then you have a great place to stay!”

Mallys gestured with a claw and Toconoma moved to another box. With little effort, Mallys removed the top of the box and looked inside.

He spoke after a moment. “It’s straw.”

“Straw is really nice to sleep on, I do it all the time!” Toconoma said. “You wouldn’t believe how comfortable it is.”

“I do know, just saying what it is for him.” Mallys tilted his head back at Arceus.

“Um, do you want to try getting in it?” Toconoma looked at the pair.

“Not in the slightest,” Mallys said before turning to his companion. “Arceus? What do you want?”

“I’ll try it,” Arceus said, looking over the box. “Do I just get in?”

“Yes?” Toconoma sounded confused, but still eager. “It’s a box.”

For a while, Arceus tapped the box experimentally, craning his neck to look inside repeatedly. He was still for a moment before suddenly leaping up the side, unfortunately his back legs were briefly caught on the edge, Mallys rushed over and pushed them over while Arceus could only flail in place.

Mallys looked inside, seeing Arceus experimentally wriggling around in the straw. “Is that comfortable?”

“Actually it is,” Arceus said. “It’s solid, but my ring kind of goes right through it so it works out! I’m even feeling kind of tired now.”

“If you close the lid, it feels more comfortable!” Toconoma piped up from somewhere in the pile of boxes.

Mallys glanced around the room, appearing a little exasperated. “Arceus? Do you want me to close the box?”

“Do it. It might be fun,” Arceus said from inside the box. He watched as Mallys shrugged and replaced the lid on top, leaving him in complete darkness.

“You’re...you’re fine in there right?” Mallys sounded concerned.

“Yeah, everything’s ok, it’s kind of relaxing.” Arceus’ voice was muffled.

“Hold on,” Mallys said. “You don’t have a mouth right? You speak through psychic or something?”

“I think?” Arceus sounded unsure. “I don’t know how it works.”

“If it was telepathy or something similar, then it wouldn’t be dampened by anything,” Mallys said, tracing a claw along the top of the box. “So what’s going on?”

“Oh oh, I think I know,” Toconoma said, appearing from somewhere. “I read once that some pokemon can make noise by vibrating air particles.”

Mallys thought about it for a moment, frowning. “That sounds unrealistic, but it’s better than nothing.”

“I don’t really mind either way,” Arceus said. “Why ask now though Mallys?”

“Simple curiosity. You never know how the smallest things can help.”

/* <><><><><> */
/* */

A pervasive nothingness hung over the nighttime air, punctuating the darkness and silence.

Mel was awakened by cold. She tried to ignore it, but the feeling persisted, leaving her extremely uncomfortable. It almost reminded her a bit of home. Taking a deep breath, Mel pulled herself up, opening her eyes to see Toconoma directly in front of her.

“You’re awake,” Toconoma whispered. “I was trying to think of how to wake you up, but I wasn’t sure if you’d get upset.”

Mel glanced to the side where Mallys was asleep in a heap of junk. He was lucky, he probably didn’t feel anything through his scales, Mel felt a twinge of pain from sleeping on top of a box.

Mel blinked in the dark. “What is it Toconoma?” The Bergmite had the same boundless energy from earlier.

“I was thinking about the geyser-” He seemed to catch himself. “Well, about how Arceus said he wanted to see the geyser, and I thought of something we can do about it.”

“You could have told him some other time.” Mel was half asleep, but tried to focus. “Why go through the trouble of helping us anyway? You don’t even know my name.”

“Oh.” Toconoma looked embarrassed for a moment. “W-what is your name?”

“It’s Mel. Just Mel.”

Toconoma stared at her for a moment. “Ok Mel. How do you spell that?”

“What?” Mel was confused. “M-E-L, exactly as it sounds.”

“Mmhmmm.” Toconoma seemed relieved. “Sorry about that,” he whispered. “I’ll explain later.”

Mel was fully awake now. “You want to tell Arceus something? I mean, I don’t know where he is, when you brought me here earlier, I just assumed he was off doing whatever, that’s just how he is.”

“Actually he’s in the box under you.”

Mel was frozen for a moment. “Eh?”

“He did it because I said I liked it,” Toconoma said happily. “No one’s done that before.”

Mel nodded slowly, rolling her eyes. “Sounds exactly like Arceus.”

“I woke you up because we have to wake him up,” Toconoma said. “Also we can’t open the box if you’re on top of it.”

“If you say so.” Mel hopped down from the crate, landing softly on the ground. She started to walk to where Mallys was sleeping, but stopped hearing a small noise.

“Um-” Toconoma spoke nervously from behind her. “Do we have to?”

“Do we have to what?” Mel thought for a moment, looking back at the Haxorus. “You mean like, not wake him up?” She pointed at Mallys with a scythe.

Toconoma was silent.

“I- I get it, he’s pretty scary sometimes,” Mel said softly. “It’s not that bad though.”

“It’s not just that,” Toconoma said. “Your friend is too big.” There was a pause. “-and scary like you said.”

“Too big for what?”

“The thing! I forget what it’s called.”

“Oh.” Mel suppressed a sigh.

Toconoma shifted back and forth. “Anyway, we gotta get Arceus. But I can’t open the box.”

Mel looked it over. “How much do you care about it?”

“About what, the box?” He hesitated, looking over the crate. “It’s just a box.”

Mel silently cut a side out of the box, her scythes slowly and methodically moving in tandem.

Toconoma looked regretfully at the hole in the box where straw was spilling out. “We were mean to it.”

Mel made a face at Toconoma as she moved the piece she had cut from the crate. “You just said it’s only a box.”

He didn’t say anything.

___
|^_^|
|___|


Mel watched Mallys’ sleeping form carefully for movement. Satisfied, she turned to Toconoma who was directly behind her.

“I don’t know how much of a sleeper he is, so I don’t think we can wake Arceus up here.”

Toconoma thought about it, looking confused. “But I woke you up. You were in here.”

“That’s uh- it might have worked once but you know...” Mel tried to find the right words, wringing her scythes. “It’s what’s called an abundance of caution.”

“If you think so Mel,” Toconoma said. “But what are we going to do? Take him out of the box? Arceus is really big.” He stopped for a moment, glancing at Mallys. “I think he’s bigger though.”

For a moment, Mel was silent. “I think... I have a weird idea.”
 

Raggy

(。◕‿‿◕。)
Location
East
My credit card is paid off for the month and I've stopped eating peanuts long enough to make something.
It's a rare day when I can do something right for once.

Chapter 7 : That's hot


Toconoma walked slowly down the hall. Behind him, a trail of ice covered the floor.

“Look, when we’re done, we’ll melt it, easy!” Mel was trying her best to calm Toconoma down, but it was clear she wasn’t particularly confident herself.

“The Administrator is going to kill me when she finds this.”

“Don’t say when, say if!” Mel said. “Also uh, you don’t have to call her the Administrator all the time though.”

“It’s a good habit.” Toconoma was deadly serious.

Mel shook her head in defeat. “I’m not here to argue about these things. Anyway, let’s do it.”

The process was simple, albeit, much easier in theory. After a bit of pulling and pushing, Mel and Toconoma moved Arceus’ sleeping form out of the box and onto the trail of ice. For a moment, Mel stopped, thinking that maybe Arceus would wake up in response to the cold. He didn’t, so they continued out the door and down the hall.

“You know, something about this feels really meaningful.” Mel had one scythe wrapped around one of Arceus’ rings, pulling him along. “I don’t know what though.”

Toconoma pushed against Arceus’ backside with his entire body. “I hope no one is around. This is a really bad idea.”

“Look Toco, I can uh, call you that right? If anything happens, I’ll take responsibility. Plus, it was your idea in the first place to wake us up, so work with me here.” Mel flashed a small smile at the Bergmite.

This seemed to shut him up.

____________
*****************

Mel knocked on Arceus’ head with a scythe. “Hello? Wake up.”

A moment passed before he stirred. “Hmm? Mel, what?” Arceus said sleepily.

Mel pointed at Toconoma who was standing slightly off to the side. “Toco’s got something for you.”

Arceus slowly turned to look at the Bergmite.

“You know the thing you wanted to do? The uh- whatever it’s called.” Toconoma tripped over his words in a rush to speak.

“The geyser?” Arceus blinked slowly. “I can’t remember the name either.”

“Yea, that. We can- I mean- I know how to get there.”

“Didn’t you say earlier that we couldn’t?”

“I did,” Toconoma replied sheepishly. “But there kind of is a way.”

“But obviously-” Mel started, “If you’re only telling us this now, there’s a catch right?”

“There’s no catch,” Toconoma said. “It’s just a bit dangerous and the Administrator probably wouldn’t like it.”

Mel sighed dramatically. “That’s a catch.”

Toconoma looked confused. “It is?”

Arceus looked around, fully awake now. “Where are we? What’s all this ice?”

Mel and Toconoma looked at each other. “We’re still inside. Toconoma and I were just trying something.” Mel shrugged. “So uh, what do you want to do?”

Arceus was silent for a moment. “We already went through the trouble of waking up, might as well go.”

Mel nodded at Toconoma who looked at the trail of ice.

“I told you,” Mel said. “We’ll deal with it, don’t worry about the ice.” She grinned at him.

Toconoma still didn’t look very confident.

“Wait-” Arceus said suddenly. “What about Mallys?”

Mel shook her head. “Nope. I’ll explain later.”

::::}{}{}{}{}{}{:::::

“I see why we can’t bring Mallys with us,” Arceus said.

Toconoma’s ‘solution’ was an oblong metal object that he called a canoe. It ended in a tip on both ends, widening in the center. Flakes of rust dotted both the inside and outside, and a faint green paint could be seen along one side.

“He would probably be too heavy. It might even be dangerous with you.” There was a pause as Toconoma seemed to compose himself. “Not that you’re really heavy, I wouldn’t know that.” The Bergmite nudged the canoe, trying to move it while muttering something to himself about spelling Mally’s name.

Arceus looked at Mel with worry. “Do you think we maybe should have woken him up anyway to tell him where we were going?”

Mel was silent, her eyes darted around as if looking for something. After a moment, she seemed about to say something when Toconoma spoke first.

“I just thought that it would be nicer to let him sleep,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t want to be woken up for something pointless, you know?”

Arceus thought about it for a moment. “That makes sense, that’s thoughtful of you Toconoma.” He seemed satisfied.

Toconoma shot a look at Mel who nodded. “So uh, this canoe can get us to the geyser?”

“It looks like it can, but can you?” Mel said to Toconoma. “You did say earlier that you didn’t really care for it.”

“I don’t, but I know where it is,” Toconoma replied. “So if you can get this boat then I’ll show you.”

With that, the group moved to get the canoe.

:><:

The clouds were a light grey, the water below a blackish muck. Choppy waves rocked the canoe back and forth as it cut through the surface. The rain was still falling in a steady drizzle, though nowhere near the downpour of the day prior.

Arceus sat in the direct center of the boat, idly staring into the distance in an almost trance-like state while Mel and Toconoma were at opposite ends of the boat working to move it forward. Mel cleaved through the oil and water with her scythes, trying her hardest to propel the canoe, while Toconoma judiciously froze parts of the water in front of them in a strange interpretation of steering. It was slow going, Mel’s attack on the water was too clean, more often than not the water was relatively undisturbed, meanwhile Toconoma’s ice was too thin in spots and the canoe simply plowed through the sheets of ice.

“How do you know where we’re going?” Mel said in between swipes. “There’s no landmarks anywhere.”

“The fire’s always in the same place,” Toconoma shouted back. “It’s like how uh, the stars are always in the same place. That’s how it works right?”

“More or less.” Mel shuddered, glancing at the distant inferno. It made no sense, but there was no denying that it was there. “So you just find your way from the position of the fire? And why are you shouting?”

“I don’t know!” Toconoma said. “But you can almost always see the fire.”

“Where is the geyser from the hotel then? Like, how far?” Mel scanned the horizon, but saw nothing except the fire.

“I heard before that it’s just about opposite of the fire,” Toconoma said. “I don’t know exactly where, just the general area.”

“Why is there even a hotel here?” Mel said with a twinge of annoyance. “I don’t see the appeal.”

“I don’t know,” Toconoma said again. “The Administrator says it’s the ‘romantic bent’, but I don’t know what a bent is.”

“I feel like I’ve heard something like that before,” Mel hummed thoughtfully. “Something about aesthetic I think. But romantic?”

Toconoma was unconcerned. “It might be. I’m not romantic, are you?”

Mel thought for a moment. “I... don’t think so.”

Toconoma released a jet of ice. “What about you Arceus? Are you romantic?”

It was quiet for a moment before Toconoma turned around in confusion. Arceus was still staring somewhere, seemingly not having noticed the question at all.

“He looks busy,” Toconoma said.

Mel glanced over for a moment, then conked Arceus over the head with a scythe. “Arceus, question.”

Arceus looked around, eyes wide in surprise. “Huh? What?”

Mel pointed at Toconoma who fidgeted uncomfortably. “We were talking about being romantic.”

“Romantic? Is that hard to do?” Arceus looked curious.

“I don’t think we know,” Mel interjected. “Actually, we were wondering if you knew.”

“Oh- well,” Arceus paused, staring into the distance for a moment. “I don’t know too many things, so I can’t say I know about that.”

“So none of us are romantic.” Mel shrugged. “That settles that.” There was a lingering sense of relief.

Arceus spoke again. “Do you think Mallys-?”

“No.” Mel cut him off sharply.

-----------------------------------------

For a pokemon of his size and stature, the Hippowdon moved gracefully and silently. Around him Pokemon milled the hallways with a mixture of worried and confused expressions. Though he was trying, it was hard to drown out the distant sounds of shouting.

Eventually, he came upon the Administrator. The Avalugg somehow seemed icier than usual, looking straight ahead with a scowl.

“I take it you are aware of the problem?” Bolero spoke evenly.

The Administrator sighed. “Unfortunately no. Usually, Toconoma tells me about these things. I’ve been slipping lately.”

“As in old age or perceived responsibility?”

“The latter,” the Administrator said dryly. “But it’s unimportant, I assume you’ve come to tell me why exactly we’re standing here.”

Bolero grunted in affirmation. “Yes, one of your guests is causing problems.”

“I see.”

>------------------->
<-------------------<

A hushed gathering of pokemon congregated in the hall, muttering amongst themselves.

“We’re kitchen staff, why do we have to wait here again?” a Tyrogue said from his perch atop a Claydol. There was an exchange of glances.

“There’s no reason really,” a Vigoroth replied airily. “We just happened to be nearby, you know how Bolero is.”

“Geez, I hate that guy.” The Tyrogue frowned, glancing over his shoulder. “Even I have seniority over him and he can just tell us what to do?”

“While correct from a technical standpoint, he has- endeared himself, so to speak, to the boss,” the Claydol below him said.

The Tyrogue sighed. “You’re not doing yourself any favors phrasing it like that.” He made a face.

“It’s the truth though,” the Vigoroth interjected, “-the Administrator works harder than any of us, any break from that is a great thing, but if that’s the implication you want to pull from that, then that’s on you.”

The Tyrogue shrugged. “I’ll take what I can get.”

As they stood there, they were met by a Camerupt who seemed out of breath.

“Ah, finally.” The Camerupt smiled wearily. “Melted all that ice.”

The Vigoroth clapped the Camerupt on the back. “Chef! Everything work out?” he asked.

The Camerupt, Chef, nodded. “Just fine. Well, except for the fact that I can’t guess how that ice got there in the first place.”

“It can’t be that much of a mystery old man,” the Tyrogue said. “The only pokemon that can make ice like that are the boss and Toconoma, and there’s no way the boss would do that, so you know my vote.”

“Oh shove off,” the Vigoroth retorted sharply, though he seemed to regret it after a moment. “Erg- sorry, just, Toconoma would never do that. He’s a good kid.”

The Tyrogue had a small grin. “Yeah? Then what, the boss did it?”

“No...” There was a moment of silence before the Vigoroth spoke again. “It- it could have been the Blastoise from maintenance, you know?”

“I don’t think so.” The Tyrogue shook his head. “Why are you acting like this anyway? Are you in on it or something?”

Chef hummed. “Lay off him Iokka, it’s not something you would understand.” He then looked at the Vigoroth with a pained expression. “Jo, you have to admit he has a point, even if he didn’t mean it that way.”

“Ha, looks like I’m the smart one for once,” Iokka said triumphantly before suddenly looking confused. “Huh? Wait, what do you mean by that?”

Jo scowled, looking away. “I know how Toconoma is, but- you know what thinking about that means.”

“Mm, can’t be helped can it?” Chef sighed. “No point in arguing now though, how’s everything been here?”

Iokka opened his mouth to answer, but a loud crash sent the group scrambling as a shower of debris flew out the half opened door nearby.

Chef examined the pieces strewn about the floor. “Huh. Who is this guy again?”

Jo made a face. “Bolero only said something about a guest.”

“Guest is a generous term, the pokemon in there is a monster,” Iokka said.

“You should know better than to say that about customers.” Jo rolled his eyes. “That being said, I can’t disagree.”

“That’s all I really need to know.” Chef hung his head, smiling slightly. “We’re cooks not diplomats, let’s just hope this ends sooner than later.”

They all agreed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“I dedicate myself to the wellbeing of the client, and despite the fact that you are not technically a paying customer of my business, it’s only good form to assist you regardless.” The Administrator spoke in a measured tone, staring down the dragon with icy eyes.

“I’m sure that’s all really nice, maybe you could sell that to someone more interested.” Mallys didn’t even seem to look at the Administrator, rather he was looking straight through her.

“Unfortunately I’m not actually selling anything.” The Administrator seemed slightly annoyed, but managed a smile regardless. “I’m only concerned about you.” She paused. “And our property.”

Mallys grunted. “At least you’re honest.” He stared at the ceiling. “I’ll be honest then. I’m angry, angry with myself. You know why? Because I can’t do the simplest thing right.”

The Administrator turned to Bolero who was slightly behind her. “Is there any context in this?”

The Hippowdon thought for a moment. “According to what I have been told, he was wandering the halls a few hours before now. Apparently, he entered a few rooms without invitation.”

The Administrator scowled. “How... unruly.” She turned back to Mallys. “I understand you’re having a difficult experience, care to tell us why?”

Mallys glared at them. “Alright customer service, I’m at this point because I lost track of someone. The one thing. The. One. Thing I should at least be able to do is keep track of them, let alone find them, but I can’t get that right either.”

The Avalugg was unmoved. “If they left somewhere of their own accord, it’s hardly any fault of your own. If they are your associate then wouldn’t the burden fall on them to tell you?”

“No, no no, that’s not how it works, it’s my responsibility regardless.” Mallys shook his head. “I can’t trust Mel. I said I could, but that’s not right.”

The Administrator’s expression remained the same. “Everyone has trust issues sometimes sir. I can empathize with you, but you have to consider talking to someone about it, instead of...this.” She grimaced at the ruined storage room.

“Then don’t dodge the question.” Mallys was nearly shouting. “I have an obligation to him, I have to help him. Then maybe I can do something right for once!”

Bolero cast a worried glance at the Administrator who remained impassive. “Sir you have to calm down.”

“I shouldn’t be here.”

“Sir-”

“Maybe I should have just disappeared. Would have been better than thinking things would change.”

“Sir please-”

“No use in fighting the past after all.”

“STOP.” The Administrator’s voice rang throughout the room as an icy wind suddenly blew through the closed space. Mallys found himself unable to reply, his mouth frozen shut.

“I apologize for that,” the Administrator spoke in a soft tone. “But it was necessary.” She looked at Mallys apologetically. “It is ungainly to request something of you, but please, just listen.”

Mallys was still for a moment before silently nodding. The ice was gone from his face, he experimentally opened and closed his mouth while watching her.

“I understand the pressure of having to live up to one’s personal standards, and I also understand having an obligation towards someone else,” she paused, choosing her words. “Are you by chance talking about the large white one?”

Mallys nodded. “Messing up like this, it’s bound to happen again. He’ll probably think I’m stupid and ditch me.”

“Somehow I doubt it,” the Administrator said. “It’s important to stick to your goals, but don’t let setbacks define your drive.”

Mallys was silent.

The Administrator continued, “I have a kid you know, he probably told you. I care for him very much, the same way you probably care for your friend. It shouldn’t matter how many mistakes you make, so long as you can make sure they’re ok, right?”

There was a moment before the Avalugg looked away. “I don’t suppose you would find much merit in the words of someone like me. Despite my words I have not treated Toconoma like I should.”

“The end justifies the means?” Mallys said quietly.

The Administrator locked eyes with Mallys. “That’s one way of saying it.” She took a moment to compose herself. “I should hope you would not construe this as an indictment of my management capacity. Are you quite satisfied with your service?”

“I think so.” Mallys looked slightly drained, but managed a small smile.

“Great. Hopefully this experience will make your stay all the better.” The Administrator turned to the Hippowdon. “Bolero, assist this guest in finding his associates, I have work to do.” With that, she left the room.

“You know...” Bolero looked at Mallys with a mystified expression. “That’s the first time I’ve seen her smile.”

“Really?” Mallys looked at the open doorway.

“Yes, now let’s go. If I have to help you with something like this, then make it quick. I have more important things to do.”

--------------------------------

“It doesn’t make any sense.” Mallys frowned. “I don’t know where they could have gone.”

“You know what doesn’t make sense to me?” Bolero sounded disinterested. “How you bounce back from shouting like a lunatic so quickly.”

The Haxorus shook his head, scowling at the Hippowdon. “The Administrator’s words had a certain tone behind them.”

“I’m sure they did,” Bolero said dryly.

“I don’t know what you’re implying.”

“Then leave it at that.” Bolero paused. “Anyway, since you’re stuck, allow me to propose a theory, if only so I can leave sooner.”

Mallys sighed. “Are you saying that you would be perfectly fine leaving me with nothing if you didn’t have a reason to help.”

“Yes actually.”

“Just tell me what you think then,” Mallys said.

“Little known fact-” Bolero started, “There’s a boat stored in a partially unused section of this hotel, a little contingency if you would.”

Mallys stared at the Hippowdon. “And?”

“I was over there looking for something earlier today, and it was gone.” Bolero feigned shock. “Crazy huh?”

The Haxorus glared at him.

“Don’t storm off yet...or do that I don’t mind. What I’m saying is that no one would have a reason to use that boat normally.”

Mallys looked thoughtful. “The geyser...”

“The geyser?” There was a moment before Bolero seemed to have a moment of clarity. “That’s right! You guys are stupid tourists. Looks like I’m right then.”

“You mean they went to see the geyser in the boat?”

“That’s how it looks,” Bolero said. “I can see why they didn’t invite you, that thing was pretty ancient.”

Mallys kept a straight face, but in his head he was already running through a host of terrifying scenarios where Arceus drowned. He was somewhat comforted in that he didn’t even know if Arceus could drown, but the thoughts remained nonetheless.

“Well that settles it.” The Hippowdon nodded. “Good luck to you, and if everything goes well, I hope to never see you again.”

“I wonder if...” Mallys tapped his claws together. “Let’s try something, I think we can go after them.”

Bolero was already walking away. “I’m leaving now, goodbye.” He didn’t get far though before he felt Mallys’ claw grip one of the holes in his back. “What are you doing?”

“We’re going now, I don’t really want to waste any time.”

Bolero struggled in vain. “Are you crazy, I said that I finished helping you.”

Mallys had an innocent expression. “Mmm, you just said you didn’t care about what I do, so wouldn’t it be fair if I could say the same?”

The Hippowdon scowled. “Crazy then. Can’t say I’m surprised.”

With that, Mallys dragged Bolero down the hall.
 
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